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TRANSLATED      FROM      THE      THIRD      GERMAN      EDITION      BY 







BENNETT    A.    CERF    •    DONALD    S.    KLOPFER 





Manufactured  in  the   United  States  of  America 

Bound    for    THE    MODERN    LIBRARY    by    H.    W olfi 

01    . 



Editor's  Note  to   the   First   American    Edition, .     •     .     .       ? 

Author's    Prefaces — I.    To    the    First    Edition, 11 

II.  To  the   Second   Edition 16 

Editor's   Preface — To   the    First    English    Translation .27 

Editor's  Preface — To  the  Fourth  German  Edition »     .....     32 


COMMODITIES  and   money. 

Chapter   I. — Commodities, 41 

Section    1. — The    two    Factors    of    a    Commodity;    Use    Value    and    Value    (the 

Substance  of   Value  and  the  Magnitude   of  Value), 41 

Section    2. — The    Twofold    Character    of    the    Labour    embodied   in    Commodities,  48 

Section  3. — The   Form   of  Value,  or  Exchange   Value 54 

A.  Elementary   or   Accidental   Form   o '   Value 56 

1.  The    two    Poles    of    the    Expression    of    Value:  Relative    Form    and 

Equivalent     Form, 56 

The    Relative    Form    of    Value 57 

(a.)  The  Nature  and   Import  of  this  Form, 57 

(&.)   Quantitative  Determination  of  Relative  Value 61 

3.  The   Equivalent    Form   of   Value, 64 

4.  The    Elementary    Form    of   Value   considered    as    a    Whole,      ...  69 

B.  Total    or    Expanded    Form    of    Value 72 

1.  The    Expanded    Relative    Form    of    Value 72 

2.  The     Particular     Equivalent     Form, 73 

3.  Defects  of  the  Total  or   Expanded  Form  of  Value, 74 

C.  The    General    Form    of    Value 75 

1.  The  altered  Character  of  the  Form  of  Value 75 

2.  The   interdependent    Development   of   the    Relative   Form    of  Value, 

and  of  the  Equivalent  Form,. 78 

3.  Transition  from  the  General  Form  to  the  Money  Form 79 

D.  The  Money  Form 80 

Section  4.— The  Fetishism  of  Commodities  and  the  Secret  thereof, 81 

Chapter    II.— Exchange 96 

Chapter  111. — Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities 106 

Section  1.— The  Measure  of  Value 106 

Section  3.— The  Medium  of  Circulation 116 

a.  The  Metamorphosis  of  Commodities 116 

b.  The  Currency  of  Money 128 

e.    Coin,  and  Symbols  of  Value,                 „ 140 

Sectioa  3.— Money 146 

a.  Hoarding 146 

b.  Means  of  Payment, 151 

C.    Universal  Money, 159 


the  transformation  of  money  into  capital. 

Chapter  IV.— The  General  Formula  for  Capital 1/52 

Chapter  V.— Contradictions  in  the  General  Formula  of  Capital, ifs 

Chapter  VI. — The  Buying  and  Selling  of  Labour-Power „     186 


j.  Contents. 




Chapter   VII. — The   Labour    Process   and   the    Process     of    producing    Surplus- 
Value 197 

Section   1. — The  Labour  Process  or  the  Production  of  Use- Value 197 

Section    2. — The    Production    of    Surplus- Value 207 

Chapter    VIII. — Constant    Capital    and    Variable    Capital 221 

Chapter    IX. — The    Rate    of    Surplus- Value 235 

Section  1. — The  Degree  of  Exploitation  of  Labour-Power, 235 

Section   2. — The   Representation   of   the   Components   of   the   Value   of   the   Pro- 
duct by  corresponding  proportional  Parts  of  the   Product  itself,      .      .      .   244 

Section  3. — Senior's  "  Last  Hour," 248 

Section    4. — Surplus-Produce, 254 

Chapter  X. — The  Working-Day 255 

Section  1. — The  Limits  of  the  Working-Day, 255 

Section  2. — The   Greed   for    Surplus-Labour.     Manufacturer   and    Boyard,      .      .  259 
Section  3. — Branches  of  English  Industry  without  Legal  Limits  to  Exploitation,  268 

Section  4.— Day  and  Night  Work.     The  Relay  System, 283 

Section  5. — The   Struggle    for    a   Normal    Working-Day.     Compulsory    Laws    for 
the  Extension   of  the  Working-Day   from   the  Middle  of  the   14th  to  the 

End  of  the  17th  Century 290 

Section   6. — The   Struggle   for  a   Normal  Working-Day.     Compulsory    Limitation 

by  Law  of  the  Working- Time.     The  English  Factory  Acts,  1833  to  1864,  304 
Section  7. — The   Struggle    for  a  Normal   Working-Day.     Re-action   of   the    Eng- 
lish Factory  Acts  on  Other  Countries, 326 

Chapter  XI. — Rate  and  Mass  of  Surplus- Value, 331 



CHAPTER   XII. — The    Concept    of    Relative    Surplus-Value 342 

Chapter     XIII. — Co-Operation 353 

Chapter  XIV. — Division  of  Labour  and  Manufacture 368 

Section  1. — Twofold  Origin  of  Manufacture 368 

Section  2. — The  Detail  Labourer  and  his   Implements 372 

Section  3. — The    two    Fundamental    Forms    of    Manufacture:         Heterogeneous 

Manufacture,    Serial    Manufacture, 375 

Section    4. — Division    of    Labour   in    Manufacture,    and    Division    of    Labour    in 

Society,         385 

Section  5. — The    Capitalistic    Character    of    Manufacture, 395 

Chapter    XV. — Machinery    and    Modern    Industry, ,  405 

Section   1. — The   Development  of   Machinery 405 

Section  2. — The   Value   transferred   by   Machinery   to   the    Product 422 

Section  3.— The  Proximate  Effects  of  Machinery  on  the  Workman,      ....  430 

a.  Appropriation  of  Supplementary  Labour-Power  by  Capital.     The 

Employment    of    Women    and    Children 431 

b.  Prolongation    of  the    Working-Day, 440 

C.  Intensification  of  Labour, 447 

Section  4. — The    Factory, 457 

Section  5. — The    Strife    between    Workman    and    Machinery, 466 

Section  6. — The  Theory  of  Compensation  as  regards  JJap  Workpeople   displaced 

by     Machinery, .  .  •   478 

Section  7. — Repulsion    and    Attraction    of    Workpeople   by   the    "factory    ^iysteir*. 

Crises  of  the  Cotton  Trade, *** 

Contents.  5 


Section  8. — Revolution    effected    in    Manufacture,    Handicrafts,    and    Domestic 

Industry    by    Modern    Industry, 502 

a.  Overthrow  of   Co-Operation   based  on   Handicraft  and  on   Divi- 

sion    of     Labour, 502 

b.  Re-action   of  the   Factory   System   on   Manufacture  and   Domes- 

tic    Industries,         504 

c.  Modern     Manufacture,  506 

d.  Modern    Domestic    Industry, 509 

e.  Passage    of    Modern    Manufacture   and    Domestic    Industry    into 

Modern  Mechanical  Industry.  The  Hastening  of  this  Revo- 
lution by  the  Application  of  the  Factory  Acts  to  those  In- 
dustries,          514 

Section  9. — The   Factory  Acts.     Sanitary  and   Educational  Clauses  of  the  same. 

Their    general    Extension    in    England, 526 

Section  10. — Modern   Industry   and   Agriculture 553 



Chapter  XVI. — Absolute  and   Relative   Surplus-Value, 557 

Chapter  XVII. — Changes   of  Magnitude   in   the   Price  of   Labour-Power   and  in 

Surplus- Value,         568 

I.  Length    of    the   Working    Day    and    Intensity    of    Labour   constant.     Pro- 

ductiveness    of     Labour     variable, 569 

II.  Working   Day   constant.     Productiveness    of   Labour   constant.     Intensity 

of     Labor     variable, 574 

III.  Productiveness  and  Intensity  of  Labour  constant.     Length  of  the  Work- 
ing    Day     variable, 576 

IV.  Simultaneous    Variations    in    the    Duration,        Productiveness    and    In- 
tensity    of     Labour, 578 

(1.)   Diminishing  Productiveness  of  Labour  with  a  simultaneous  Length- 
ening  of   the    Working    Day, 578 

(2.)   Increasing    Intensity    and    Productiveness    of    Labour    with    simul- 
taneous   Shortening    of    the    Working    Day, 580 

Chapter  XVIII. — Various  Formlae  for  the  Rate  of  Surplus-Value,     ....  582 



Chapter  XIX. — The  Transformation  of  the  Value  (and  respectively  the  Price) 

of     Labour-Power     into     Wages 586 

Chapter  XX. — Time-wages, 594 

Chapter  XXI. — Piece-Wages,  602 

Chapter    XXII. — National    Differences    of    Wages, 611 


THE  accumulation  of  capital. 

Chapter  XXIII. — Simple    Reproduction, 619 

Chapter  XXIV. — Conversion     of     Surplus-Value     into     Capital, 634 

Section  1. — Capitalist  Production  on  a  progressively  increasing  Scale.  Transi- 
tion of  the  Laws  of  Property  that  characterise  Production  of  Com- 
modities into  Laws  of   Capitalist   Appropriation, 634 

Section  2. — Erroneous    Conception,    by    Political    Economy,    of    Reproduction    on 

a    progressively     increasing     Scale, 644 

6  Contents. 

Section  3. — Separation  of  Surplus-Value  into  Capital  and  Revenue.  The  Ab- 
stinence   Theory,         648 

Section  4. — Circumstances  that,  independently  of  the  proportional  Division  of 
Surplus- Value  into  Capital  and  Revenue,  determine  the  Amount  of  Ac- 
cumulation. Degree  of  Exploitation  of  Labour-Power.  Productivity  of 
Labour.  Growing  Difference  in  Amount  between  Capital  employed  and 
Capital  consumed.     Magnitude  of  Capital  advanced, 656 

Section  5. — The    so-called    Labour    Fund, 667 

Chapter  XXV. — The   General   Law   of   Capitalist  Accumulation, 671 

Section  1. — The  increased  Demand  for  Labour-Power  that  accompanies  Accumu- 
lation,  the   Composition  of   Capital  remaining  the   same, 671 

Section  2. — Relative  Diminution  of  the  Variable  Part  of  Capital  simultaneously 
with  the  Progress  of  Accumulation  and  of  the  Concentration  that  ac- 
companies it, 681 

Section  3. — Progressive  Production  of  a  Relative  Surplus-Population,  or  Indus- 
trial    Reserve     Army 689 

Section  4. — Different    Forms   of   the    Relative    Surplus-Population.     The   General 

Law    of    Capitalistic    Accumulation, 703 

Section  5. — Illustrations  of   the   General   Law   of  Capitalist  Accumulation,     .      .   711 

a.  England   from   1846   to   1866 711 

b.  The  badly  paid  Strata  of  the  British  Industrial  Class,      .      .      .   718 

c.  The     Nomad     Population, 728 

d.  Effect  of  Crises  on  the  best  paid  Part  of  the  Working  Class,     .   733 

e.  The    British    Agricultural    Proletariat, 739 

/.  Ireland,        767 



Chapter  XXVI. — The  Secret  of  Primitive  Accumulation, 784 

Chapter  XXVII. — Expropriation  of  the  Agricultural  Population  from  the  Land,  788 
Chapter  XXVIII. — Bloody   Legislation   against   the    Expropriated   from    the   End 

of  the  15th  Century.     Forcing  down  of  Wages  by  Acts  of  Parliament,     .  805 

Chapter  XXIX. — Genesis    of    the    Capitalist    Farmer 814 

Chapter  XXX. — Reaction  of  the  Agricultural  Revolution  on  Industry.  Crea- 
tion  of   the   Home    Market    for    Industrial    Capital, 817 

Chapter  XXXI. — Genesis  of  the  Industrial  Capitalist 828 

Chapter  XXXII. — Historical    Tendency   of    Capitalistic    Accumulation,     .      .      .  834 

Chapter  XXaIII. — The  Modern  Theory  of  Colonization 838 

Works  and  Authors  quoted  in  "  Capital," .  850 

Index .     .     .    ..     *    ...    .     .  866 


The  original  plan  of  Marx,  as  outlined  in  his  preface  to 
the  first  German  edition  of  Capital,  in  1867,  was  to  divide 
his  work  into  three  volumes.  Volume  I  was  to  contain  Book 
I,  The  Process  of  'Capitalist  Production.  Volume  II  was 
scheduled  to  comprise  both  Book  II,  The  Process  of  Capi- 
talist Circulation,  and  Book  III,  The  Process  of  Capitalist 
Production  as  a  Whole.  The  work  was  to  close  with  volume 
III,  containing  Book  IV,  A  History  of  Theories  of  Surplus- 

When  Marx  proceeded  to  elaborate  his  work  for  publica- 
tion, he  had  the  essential  portions  of  all  three  volumes,  with 
a  few  exceptions,  worked  out  in  their  main  analyses  and  con- 
clusions, but  in  a  very  loose  and  unfinished  form.  Owing  to 
ill  health,  he  completed  only  volume  I.  He  died  on  March 
14,  1883,  just  when  a  third  German  edition  of  this  volume 
was  being  prepared  for  the  printer. 

Frederick  Engels,  the  intimate  friend  and  co-operator  of 
Marx,  stepped  into  the  place  of  his  dead  comrade  and  pro- 
ceeded to  complete  the  work.  In  the  course  of  the  elabora- 
tion of  volume  II  it  was  found  that  it  would  be  wholly  taken 
up  with  Book  II,  The  Process  of  Capitalist  Circulation.  Its 
first  German  edition  did  not  appear  until  May,  1885,  almost 
18  years  after  the  first  volume. 

The  publication  of  the  third  volume  was  delayed  still 
longer.  When  the  second  German  edition  of  volume  II  ap- 
peared, in  July,  1893,  Engels  was  still  working  on  volume 


8  American  Editor's  Note. 

III.  It  was  not  until  October,  1894,  that  the  first  German 
edition  of  volume  III  was  published,  in  two  separate  parts, 
containing  the  subject  matter  of  what  had  been  originally 
planned  as  Book  III  of  volume  II,  and  treating  of  The  Capi- 
talist Process  of  Production  as  a  whole. 

The  reasons  for  the  delay  in  the  publication  of  volumes  II 
and  III,  and  the  difficulties  encountered  in  solving  the 
problem  of  elaborating  the  copious  notes  of  Marx  into  a  fin- 
ished and  connected  presentation  of  his  theories,  have  been 
fully  explained  by  Engels  in  his  various  prefaces  to  these  two 
volumes.  His  great  modesty  led  him  to  belittle  his  own 
share  in  this  fundamental  work.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  a  large 
portion  of  the  contents  of  Capital  is  as  much  a  creation  of 
Engels  as  though  he  had  written  it  independently  of  Marx. 

Engels  intended  to  issue  the  contents  of  the  manuscripts 
for  Book  IV,  originally  planned  as  volume  III,  in  the  form 
of  a  fourth  volume  of  Capital.  But  on  the  6th  of  August, 
1895,  less  than  one  year  after  the  publication  of  volume  III, 
he  followed  his  co-worker  into  the  grave,  still  leaving  this 
work  incompleted. 

However,  some  years  previous  to  his  demise,  and  in  antici- 
pation of  such  an  eventuality,  he  had  appointed  Karl  Kautsky, 
the  editor  of  Die  Neue  Zeit,  the  scientific  organ  of  the  German 
Socialist  Party,  as  his  successor  and  familiarized  him  per- 
sonally with  the  subject  matter  intended  for"  volume  IV  of 
this  work.  The  material  proved  to  be  so  voluminous,  that 
Kautsky,  instead  of  making  a  fourth  volume  of  Capital  out 
of  it,  abandoned  the  original  plan  and  issued  his  elaboration 
as  a  separate  work  in  three  volumes  under  the  title  Theories  of 

The  first  English  translation  of  the  first  volume  of  Capital 
was  edited  by  Engels  and  published  in  1886.  Marx  had  in 
the  meantime  made  some  changes  in  the  text  of  the  second 

American  Editor's  Note.  9 

German  edition  and  of  the  French  translation,  both  of  which 
appeared  in  1873,  and  he  had  intended  to  superintend  per- 
sonally the  edition  of  an  English  version.  But  the  state  of 
his  health  interfered  with  this  plan.  Engels  utilised  his 
notes  and  the  text  of  the  Trench  edition  of  1873  in  the  prep- 
aration of  a  third  German  edition,  and  this  served  as  a  basis 
for  the  first  edition  of  the  English  translation. 

Owing  to  the  fact  that  the  title  page  of  this  English  trans- 
lation (published  by  Swan  Sonnenschein  &  'Co.)  did  not  dis- 
tinctly specify  that  this  was  but  volume  I,  it  has  often  been 
mistaken  for  the  complete  work,  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  the 
prefaces  of  Marx  and  Engels  clearly  pointed  to  the  actual 
condition  of  the  matter. 

In  1890,  four  years  after  the  publication  of  the  first  Eng- 
lish edition,  Engels  edited  the  proofs  for  a  fourth  German 
edition  of  volume  I  and  enlarged  it  still  more  after  a  re- 
peated comparison  with  the  French  edition  and  with  manu- 
script notes  of  Marx.  But  the  Swan  Sonnenschein  edition 
did  not  adopt  this  new  version  in  its  subsequent  English 

This  first  American  edition  will  be  the  first  complete  Eng- 
lish edition  of  the  entire  Marxian  theories  of  Capitalist  Pro- 
duction. It  will  contain  all  three  volumes  of  Capital  in  full. 
The  present  volume,  I,  deals  with  The  Process  of  Capitalist 
Production  in  the  strict  meaning  of  the  term  "  production." 
Volume  II  will  treat  of  The  Process  of  Capitalist  Circulation 
in  the  strict  meaning  of  the  term  "  circulation."  Volume 
III  will  contain  the  final  analysis  of  The  Process  of  Capitalist 
Production  as  a  Whole,  that  is  of  Production  and  Circulation 
in  their  mutual  interrelations. 

The  Theories  of  Surplus-Value,  Kautsky's  elaboration  of 
the  posthumous  notes  of  Marx  and  Engels,  will  in  due  time 
be  published  in  an  English  translation  as  a  separate  work. 

IO  American  Editor's  Note. 

This  first  American  edition  of  volume  I  is  based  on  the 
revised  fourth  German  edition.  The  text  of  the  English 
version  of  the  Swan  Sonnenschein  edition  has  been  compared 
page  for  page  with  this  improved  German  edition,  and  about 
ten  pages  of  new  text  hitherto  not  rendered  in  English  are 
thus  presented  to  American  readers.  All  the  footnotes  have 
likewise  been  revised  and  brought  up  to  date. 

For  all  further  information  concerning  the  technical  par- 
ticulars of  this  work  I  refer  the  reader  to  the  prefaces  of  Marx 
and  Engels. 

Ernest  Untekmann. 

Orlando,  Ha.,  July  18,  1906. 



THE  work,  the  first  volume  of  which  I  now  submit  to  the 
public,  forms  the  continuation  of  my  "Zur  Kritik  der 
Politischen  Oekonomie"  (A  Contribution  to  the  Critique  of 
Political  Economy)  published  in  1859.  The  long  pause  be- 
tween the  first  part  and  the  continuation  is  due  to  an  illness 
of  many  years'  duration  that  again  and  again  interrupted  my 

The  substance  of  that  earlier  work  is  summarised  in  the 
first  three  chapters  of  this  volume.  This  is  done  not  merely 
for  the  sake  of  connection  and  completeness.  The  presentation 
of  the  subject-matter  is  improved.  As  far  as  circumstances  in 
any  way  permit,  many  points  only  hinted  at  in  the  earlier 
book  are  here  worked  out  more  fully,  whilst,  conversely,  points 
worked  out  fully  there  are  only  touched  upon  in  this  volume. 
The  sections  on  the  history  of  the  theories  of  value  and  <f 
money  are  now,  of  course,  left  out  altogether.  The  reader 
of  the  earlier  work  will  find,  however,  in  the  notes  to  the  first 
chapter  additional  sources  of  reference  relative  to  the  history 
of  those  theories. 

Every  beginning  is  difficult,  holds  in  all  sciences.  To 
understand  the  first  chapter,  especially  the  section  that  con- 
tains the  analysis  of  commodities,  will,  the  efore,  present  the 
greatest  difficulty.  That  which  concern:  more  especially  the 
analysis  of  the  substance  of  value  and  the  magnitude  of  value, 

12  Author's  Prefaces. 

I  have,  as  much  as  it  was  possible,  popularised.1  The  value- 
form,  whose  fully  developed  shape  is  the  money-form,  is  very 
elementary  and  simple.  Nevertheless,  the  human  mind  has 
for  more  than  2000  years  sought  in  vain  to  get  to  the  bottom 
of  it,  whilst  on  the  other  hand,  to  the  successful  analysis  of 
much  more  composite  and  complex  forms,  there  has  been  at 
least  an  approximation.  Why  \  Because  the  body,  as  an  or- 
ganic whole,  is  more  easy  of  study  than  are  the  cells  of  that 
body.  In  the  analysis  of  economic  forms,  moreover,  neither 
microscopes  nor  chemical  reagents  are  of  use.  The  force  of 
abstraction  must  replace  both.  But  in  bourgeois  society  the 
commodity-form  of  the  product  of  labor — or  the  value-form 
of  the  commodity — is  the  economic  cell-form.  To  the  super- 
ficial observer,  the  analysis  of  these  forms  seems  to  turn  upon 
minutise.  It  does  in  fact  deal  with  minutiae,  but  they  are  ot 
the  same  order  as  those  dealt  with  in  microscopic  anatomy. 

With  the  exception  of  the  section  on  value-form,  therefore, 
this  volume  cannot  stand  accused  on  the  score  of  difficulty.  J 
pre-suppose,  of  course,  a  reader  who  is  willing  to  learn  some- 
thing new  and  therefore  to  think  for  himself. 

The  physicist  either  observes  physical  phenomena  where 
they  occur  in  their  most  typical  form  and  most  free  from 
disturbing  influence,  or,  wherever  possible,  he  makes  experi- 
ments under  conditions  that  assure  the  occurrence  of  the  phe- 

iThis  is  the  more  necessary,  as  even  the  section  of  Ferdinand  Lassalle'* 
work  against  Schulze-Delitzsch,  in  which  he  professes  to  give  "the  intel- 
lectual quintessence"  of  my  explanations  on  these  subjects,  contains  im- 
portant mistakes.  If  Ferdinand  Lassalle  has  borrowed  almost  literally 
from  my  writings,  and  without  any  acknowledgment,  all  the  general 
theoretic  il  propositions  in  his  economic  works,  e.g.,  those  on  the  his- 
torical character  of  capital,  on  the  connection  between  the  conditions  of 
production  an  '.  the  mode  of  production,  &c,  &c,  even  to  the  terminology 
created  by  me,  this  may  perhaps  be  due  to  purposes  of  propaganda.  I 
am  here,  of  course,  not  speaking  of  his  detailed  working  out  and  applica- 
tion of  these  propositions,  with  which  I  have  nothing  to  do. 

Author's  Prefaces.  13 

nomenon  in  its  normality.  In  this  work  I  have  to  examine 
the  capitalist  mode  of  production,  and  the  conditions  of  pro- 
duction and  exchange  corresponding  to  that  mode.  Up  to  the 
present  time,  their  classic  ground  is  England.  That  is  the 
reason  why  England  is  used  as  the  chief  illustration  in  the 
development  of  my  theoretical  ideas.  If,  however,  the  Ger- 
man reader  shrugs  his  shoulders  at  the  condition  of  the  Eng- 
lish industrial  and  agricultural  laborers,  or  in  optimist  fash- 
ion comforts  himself  with  the  thought  that  in  Germany  things 
are  not  nearly  so  bad,  I  must  plainly  tell  him,  "De  te  fabvla 
narratur!  " 

Intrinsically,  it  is  not  a  question  of  the  higher  or  lower 
degree  of  development  of  the  social  antagonisms  that  result 
from  the  natural  laws  of  capitalist  production.  It  is  a  ques- 
tion of  these  laws  themselves,  of  these  tendencies  working  with 
iron  necessity  towards  inevitable  results.  The  country  that 
is  more  developed  industrially  only  shows,  to  the  less  de- 
veloped, the  image  of  its  own  future. 

But  apart  from  this.  Where  capitalist  production  is  fully 
naturalised  among  the  Germans  (for  instance,  in  the  factories 
proper)  the  condition  of  things  is  much  worse  than  in  England, 
because  the  counterpoise  of  the  Factory  Acts  is  wanting.  In 
all  other  spheres,  we,  like  all  the  rest  of  Continental  Western 
Europe,  suffer  not  only  from  the  development  of  capitalist 
production,  but  also  from  the  incompleteness  of  that  develop- 
ment. Alongside  of  modern  evils,  a  whole  series  of  inherited 
evils  oppress  us,  arising  from  the  passive  survival  of  anti- 
quated modes  of  production,  with  their  inevitable  train  of 
social  and  political  anachronisms.  We  suffer  not  only  from  the 
living,  but  from  the  dead.     Le  mart  saisit  Te  vif ! 

The  social  statistics  of  Germany  and  the  rest  of  Continental 
Western  Europe  are,  in  comparison  with  those  of  England, 
wretchedly  compiled.     But  they  raise  the  veil  just  enough 

14  Author's  Prefaces. 

to  let  us  eaten  a  glimpse  of  the  Medusa  head  behind  it.  We 
should  be  appalled  at  the  state  of  things  at  home,  if,  as  in 
England,  our  governments  and  parliaments  appointed  period- 
ically commissions  of  enquiry  into  economic  conditions;  if 
these  commissions  were  armed  with  the  same  plenary  powers 
to  get  at  the  truth;  if  it  was  possible  to  find  for  this  purpose 
men  as  competent,  as  free  from  partisanship  and  respect  of 
persons  as  are  the  English  factory-inspectors,  her  medical  re- 
porters on  public  health,  her  commissioners  of  enquiry  into 
the  exploitation  of  women  and  children,  into  housing  and 
food.  Perseus  wore  a  magic  cap  that  the  monsters  he  hunted 
down  might  not  see  him.  We  draw  the  magic  cap  down  over 
eyes  and  ears  as  a  make-believe  that  there  are  no  monsters. 
Le  us  not  deceive  ourselves  on  this.  As  in  the  18th  century, 
the  American  war  of  independence  sounded  the  tocsin  for  the 
European  middle-class,  so  in  the  19th  century,  the  American 
civil  war  sounded  it  for  the  European  working-class.  In  Eng- 
land the  progress  of  social  disintegration  is  palpable.  When 
it  has  reached  a  certain  point,  it  must  re-act  on  the  continent. 
There  it  will  take  a  form  more  brutal  or  more  humane,  accord- 
ing to  the  degree  of  development  of  the  working-class  itself. 
Apart  from  higher  motives,  therefore,  their  own  most  impor- 
tant interests  dictate  to  the  classes  that  are  for  the  nonce  the 
ruling  ones,  the  removal  of  all  legally  removable  hindrances 
to  the  free  development  of  the  working-class.  For  this  reason, 
as  well  as  others,  I  have  given  so  large  a  space  in  this  volume 
to  the  history,  the  details,  and  the  results  of  English  factory 
legislation.  One  nation  can  and  should  learn  from  others. 
And  even  when  a  society  has  got  upon  the  right  track  for  the 
discovery  of  the  natural  laws  of  its  movement — and  it  is  the 
ultimate  aim  of  this  work,  to  lay  bare  the  economic  law  of 
motion  of  modern  society — it  can  neither  clear  by  bold  leaps, 
nor  remove  by  legal  enactments,  the  obstacles  offered  by  the 

Author's  Prefaces.  I£J 

successive  phases  of  its  normal  development.  But  it  can 
shorten  and  lessen  the  birth-pangs. 

To  prevent  possible  misunderstanding,  a  word.  I  paint  the 
capitalist  and  the  landlord  in  no  sense  couleur  de  rose.  But 
here  individuals  are  dealt  with  only  in  so  far  as  they  are  the 
personifications  of  economic  categories,  embodiments  of  par- 
ticular class-relations  and  class-interests.  My  stand-point, 
from  which  the  evolution  of  the  economic  formation  of  society 
is  viewed  as  a  process  of  natural  history,  can  less  than  any 
other  make  the  individual  responsible  for  relations  whose  crea- 
ture he  socially  remains,  however  much  he  may  subjectively 
raise  himself  above  them. 

In  the  domain  of  Political  Economy,  free  scientific  enquiry 
meets  not  merely  the  same  enemies  as  in  all  other  domains. 
The  peculiar  nature  of  the  material  it  deals  with,  summons  as 
foes  into  the  field  of  battle  the  most  violent,  mean  and  malig- 
nant passions  of  the  human  breast,  the  Furies  of  private  in- 
terest. The  English  Established  Church,  e.g.,  will  more 
readily  pardon  an  attack  on  38  of  its  39  articles  than  on  -JL 
of  its  income.  Now-a-days  atheism  itself  is  culpa  levis,  as 
compared  with  criticism  of  existing  property  relations.  Never- 
thuless,  there  is  an  unmistakable  advance.  I  refer,  e.g.,  to  the 
blut'book  published  within  the  last  few  weeks :  "  Correspond- 
ence with  Her  Majesty's  Missions  Abroad,  regarding  Indus- 
trial Questions  and  Trades'  Unions."  The  representatives  of 
the  English  Crown  in  foreign  countries  there  declare  in  so 
many  words  that  in  Germany,  in  France,  to  be  brief,  in  all 
the  civilised  states  of  the  European  continent,  a  radical  change 
"in  the  existing  relations  between  capital  and  labor  is  as 
evident  and  inevitable  as  in  England.  At  the  same  time,  on 
the  other  side  of  the  Atlantic  Ocean,  Mr.  Wade,  vice-president 
of  the  United  States,  declared  in  public  meetings  that,  after 
the  abolition  of  slavery,  a  radical  change  of  the  relations  ol 

1 6  Author's  Prefaces. 

capital  and  of  property  in  land  is  next  upon  the  order  of  the 
day.  These  are  signs  of  the  times,  not  to  be  hidden  by  purple 
mantles  or  black  cassocks.  They  do  not  signify  that  to-morrow 
a  miracle  will  happen.  They  show  that,  within  the  ruling- 
classes  themselves,  a  foreboding  is  dawning,  that  the  present 
society  is  no  solid  crystal,  but  an  organism  capable  of  change, 
and  is  constantly  changing. 

The  second  volume  of  this  work  will  treat  of  the  process  of 
the  circulation  of  capital1  (Book  II.),  and  of  the  varied  forms 
assumed  by  capital  in  the  course  of  its  development  (Book 
III.) j  the  third  and  last  volume  (Book  IV.),  the  history  of 
the  theory. 

Every  opinion  based  on  scientific  criticism  I  welcome.  As 
to  the  prejudices  of  so-called  public  opinion,  to  which  I  have 
never  made  concessions,  now  as  aforetime  the  maxim  of  the 
great  Florentine  is  mine: 

"Segui  il  tuo  corso,  e  lascia  dir  le  genti." 


London,  July  25,  1867. 


To  the  present  moment  Political  Economy,  in  Germany,  is 
a  foreign  science.  Gustav  von  Giilich  in  his  "Historical  de- 
scription of  Commerce,  Industry,"  &c.,2  especially  in  the  two 
first  volumes  published  in  1830,  has  examined  at  length  the 
historical  circumstances  that  prevented,  in  Germany,  the  de- 
velopment of  the  capitalist  mode  of  production,  and  conse- 
quently the  development,  in  that  country,  of  modern  bourgeois 
society.     Thus  the  soil  whence  Political  Economy  springs  was 

1On  p.  618  the  author  explains  what  he  comprises  under  this  head. 
2  Geschichtliche  Darstellung  des  Handels,  der  Gewerhe  und  des  Acker- 
baus,  &c.,  von  Gustav  von  Giilich.    5  vols.,  Jena,  1830-45. 

Author's  Prefaces.  17 

wanting.  This  "science"  had  to  be  imported  from  England 
and  France  as  a  ready-made  article;  its  German  professors 
remained  schoolboys.  The  theoretical  expression  of  a  foreign 
reality  was  turned,  in  their  hands,  into  a  collection  of  dogmas, 
interpreted  by  them  in  terms  of  the  petty  trading  world  around 
them,  and  therefore  misinterpreted.  The  feeling  of  scientific 
impotence,  a  feeling  dot  wholly  to  be  repressed,  and  the  uneasy 
consciousness  of  having  to  touch  a  subject  in  reality  foreign  to 
them,  was  but  imperfectly  concealed,  either  under  a  parade 
of  literary  and  historical  erudition,  or  by  an  admixture  of 
extraneous  material,  borrowed  from  the  so-called  "Kameral" 
sciences,  a  medley  of  smatterings,  through  whose  purgatory 
the  hopeless  candidate  for  the  German  bureaucracy  has  to  pass. 

Since  1848  capitalist  production  has  developed  rapidly  in 
Germany,  and  at  the  present  time  it  is  in  the  full  bloom  of 
speculation  rnd  swindling.  But  fate  is  still  unpropitious  to 
our  professional  economists.  At  the  time  when  they  were 
able  to  deal  with  Political  Economy  in  a  straightforward 
fashion,  modern  economic  conditions  did  not  actually  exist 
in  Germany.  And  as  soon  as  these  conditions  did  come  into 
existence,  they  did  so  under  circumstances  that  no  longer  al- 
lowed of  their  being  really  and  impartially  investigated  within 
the  bounds  of  the  bourgeois  horizon.  In  so  far  as  Political 
Economy  remains  within  that  horizon,  in  so  far,  i.e.,  as  the 
capitalist,  regime  is  looked  upon  as  the  absolutely  final  form 
of  social  production,  instead  of  as  a  passing  historical  phase 
of  its  evolution,  Political  Economy  can  remain  a  science  only 
so  long  as  the  class-struggle  is  latent  or  manifests  itself  only 
in  isolated  and  sporadic  phenomena. 

Let  us  take  England.  Its  political  economy  belongs  to  thr 
period  in  which  the  class-struggle  was  as  yet  undeveloped 
Its  last  great,  representative,  Bicardo,  in  the  end,  consciously 
makes  the  antagonism  of  class-interests,  of  wages  and  profits, 

1 8  Authors  Prefaces. 

of  profits  and  rent,  the  starting-point  of  his  investigations, 
naively  taking  this  antagonism  for  a  social  law  of  nature. 
But  by  this  start  the  science  of  bourgeois  economy  had  reached 
the  limits  beyond  which  it  could  not  pass.  Already  in  the  life- 
time of  Ricardo,  and  in  opposition  to  him,  it  was  met  by  criti- 
cism, in  the  person  of  Sismondi.1 

The  succeeding  period,  from  1820  to  1830,  was  notable  in 
England  for  scientific  activity  in  the  domain  of  Political 
Economy.  It  was  the  time  as  well  of  the  vulgarising  and 
extending  of  Ricardo' s  theory,  as  of  the  contest  of  that  theory 
with  the  old  school.  Splendid  tournaments  were  held.  What 
was  done  then,  is  little  known  to  the  Continent  generally,  be- 
cause the  polemic  is  for  the  most  part  scattered  through  articles 
in  reviews,  occasional  literature  and  pamphlets.  The  un- 
prejudiced character  of  this  polemic — although  the  theory  of 
Ricardo  already  serves,  in  exceptional  cases,  as  a  weapon  of 
attack  upon  bourgeois  economy — is  explained  by  the  circum- 
stances of  the  time.  On  the  one  hand,  modern  industry  itself 
was  only  just  emerging  from  the  age  of  childhood,  as  is  shown 
by  the  fact  that  with  the  crisis  of  1825  it  for  the  first  time 
opens  the  periodic  cycle  of  its  modern  life.  On  the  other 
hand,  the  class-struggle  between  capital  and  labor  is  forced 
into  the  background,  politically  by  the  discord  between  the 
governments  and  the  feudal  aristocracy  gathered  around  the 
Holy  Alliance  on  the  one  hand,  and  the  popular  masses,  led 
by  the  bourgeoisie  on  the  other;  economically  by  the  quarrel 
between  industrial  capital  and  aristocratic  landed  property — a 
quarrel  that  in  France  was  concealed  by  the  opposition  between 
small  and  large  landed  property,  and  that  in  England  broke 
out  openly  after  the  Corn  Laws.  The  literature  of  Political 
Economy  in  England  at  this  time  calls  to  mind  the  stormy 
rV>rward  movement  in  France  after  Dr.  Quesnay's  death,  but 
i  See  my  work  "Critique,  &c,"  p.  70. 

Author's  Prefaces.  19 

only  as  a  Saint  Martin's  summer  reminds  us  of  spring.  With 
the  year  1830  came  the  decisive  crisis. 

In  France  and  in  England  the  bourgeoisie  had  conquered 
political  power.  Thenceforth,  the  class-struggle,  practically 
as  well  as  theoretically,  took  on  more  and  more  outspoken  and 
threatening  forms.  It  sounded  the  knell  of  scientific  bour- 
geois economy.  It  was  thenceforth  no  longer  a  question, 
whether  this  theorem  or  that  was  true,  but  whether  it  was 
useful  to  capital  or  harmful,  expedient  or  inexpedient,  polit- 
ically dangerous  or  not.  In  place  of  disinterested  enquirers, 
there  were  hired  prize-fighters;  in  place  of  genuine  scientific 
research,  the  bad  conscience  and  the  evil  intent  of  apologetic. 
Still,  even  the  obtrusive  pamphlets  with  which  the  Anti-Corn 
Law  League,  led  by  the  manufacturers  Cobden  and  Bright, 
deluged  the  world,  haye.  a  historic  interest,  if  no  scientific  one, 
on  account  of  their  polemic  against  the  landed  aristocracy. 
But  since  then  the  Free  Trade  legislation,  inaugurated  by 
Sir  Robert  Peel,  has  deprived  vulgar  economy  of  this  its  last 

The  Continental  revolution  of  1848-9  also  had  its  reaction 
in  England.  Men  who  still  claimed  some  scientific  standing 
and  aspired  to  be  something  more  than  mere  sophists  and  syco- 
phants of  the  ruling-classes,  tried  to  harmonise  the  Political 
Economy  of  capital  with  the  claims,  no  longer  to  be  ignored, 
of  the  proletariat.  Hence  a  shallow  syncretism,  of  which 
John  Stuart  Mill  is  the  best  representative.  It  is  a  declaration 
of  bankruptcy  by  bourgeois  economy,  an  event  on  which  the 
great  Russian  scholar  and  critic,  1ST.  Tschernyschewsky,  has 
thrown  the  light  of  a  master  mind  in  his  "Outlines  of  Political 
Economy  according  to  Mill." 

In  Germany,  therefore,  the  capitalist  mode  of  production 
came  to  a  head,  after  its  antagonistic  character  had  already, 
in  France  and  England,   shown   itself  in  a  fierce  strife  of 

20  'Author's  Prefaces. 

classes.  And  mean-while,  moreover,  the  German  proletariat 
had  attained  a  much  more  clear  class-consciousness  than  the 
German  bourgeoisie.  Thus,  at  the  very  moment  when  a  bour- 
geois science  of  political  economy  seemed  at  last  possible  in 
Germany,  it  had  in  reality  again  become  impossible. 

Under  these  circumstances  its  professors  fell  into  two  groups. 
The  one  set,  prudent,  practical  business  folk,  flocked  to  the 
banner  of  Bastiat,  the  most  superficial  and  therefore  the  most 
adequate  representative  of  the  apologetic  of  vulgar  economy; 
the  other,  proud  of  the  professorial  dignity  of  their  science, 
followed  John  Stuart  Mill  in  his  attempt  to  reconcile  irrecon- 
cilables.  Just  as  in  the  classical  time  of  bourgeois  economy, 
so  also  in  the  time  of  its  decline,  the  Germans  remained  mere 
schoolboys,  imitators  and  followers,  petty  retailers  and  hawk- 
ers in  the  service  of  the  great  foreign  wholesale  concern. 

The  peculiar  historic  development  of  German  society  there- 
fore forbids,  in  that  country,  all  original  work  in  bourgeois 
economy;  but  not  the  criticism  of  that  economy.  So  far  a3 
such  criticism  represents  a  class,  it  can  only  represent  the  class 
whose  vocation  in  history  is  the  overthrow  of  the  capitalist 
mode  of  production  and  the  final  abolition  of  all  classes — the 

The  learned  and  unlearned  spokesmen  of  the  German  bour- 
geoisie tried  at  first  to  kill  "Das  Kapital"  by  silence,  as  they 
had  managed  to  do  with  my  earlier  writings.  As  soon  as  they 
found  that  these  tactics  no  longer  fitted  in  with  the  conditions 
of  the  time,  they  wrote,  under  pretence  of  criticising  my  book, 
prescriptions  "for  the  tranquillisation  of  the  bourgeois  mind." 
But  they  found  in  the  workers'  press — see,  e.g.,  Joseph  Dietz- 
gen's  articles  in  the  "Volksstaat" —  antagonists  stronger  than 
themselves,  to  whom  (down  to  this  very  day)  they  owe  a 

I'The  mealy-mouthed  babblers  of  German  vulgar  economy  fell  foul  of 

Author's  Prefaces.  21 

An  excellent  Eussian  translation  of  "Das  Kapital"  appeared 
in  the  spring  of  1872.  The  edition  of  3000  copies  is  already 
nearly  exhausted.  As  early  as  1871,  A.  Sieber,  Professor  of 
Political  Economy  in  the  University  of  Kiev,  in  his  work 
"David  Kicardo's  Theory  of  Value  and  of  Capital,"  referred 
to  my  theory  of  value,  of  money  and  of  capital,  as  in  its 
fundamentals  a  necessary  sequel  to  the  teaching  of  Smith  and 
Eicardo.  That  which  astonishes  the  Western  European  in 
the  reading  of  this  excellent  work,  is  the  author's  consistent 
and  firm  grasp  of  the  purely  theoretical  position. 

That  the  method  employed  in  "Das  Kapital"  has  been  little 
understood,  is  shown  by  the  various  conceptions,  contradictory 
one  to  another,  that  have  been  formed  of  it. 

Thus  the  Paris  Revue  Positiviste  reproaches  me  in  that,  on 

the  one  hand,  I  treat  economics  metaphysically,  and  on  the 

other  hand — imagine  ! — confine  myself  to  the   mere   critical 

analysis  of  actual  facts,  instead  of  writing  recipes  (Comtist 

ones  ?)   for  the  cook-shops  of  the  future.     In  answer  to  the 

reproach  in  re  metaphysics,  Professor  Sieber  has  it :     "In  so 

far  as  it  deals  with  actual  theory,  the  method  of  Marx  is  the 

deductive  method  of  the  whole  English  school,  a  school  whose 

failings  and  virtues  are  common  to  the  best  theoretic  econ- 

the  style  of  my  book.  No  one  can  feel  the  literary  shortcomings  in  "Das 
Kapital"  more  strongly  than  I  myself.  Yet  I  will  for  the  benefit  and 
the  enjoyment  of  these  gentlemen  and  their  public  quote  in  this  connec- 
tion one  English  and  one  Russian  notice.  The  "Saturday  Review,"  al- 
ways hostile  to  my  views,  said  in  its  notice  of  the  first  edition:  "The 
presentation  of  the  subject  invests  the  driest  economic  questions  with  a 
certain  peculiar  charm."  The  "St.  Petersburg  Journal"  ( Sankt-Peter- 
burgskie  Viedomosti),  in  its  issue  of  April  20,  1872,  says:  "The  presen- 
tation of  the  subject,  with  the  exception  of  one  or  two  exceptionally  spe- 
cial parts,  is  distinguished  by  its  comprehensibility  by  the  general  reader, 
its  clearness,  and  in  spite  of  the  scientific  intricacy  of  the  subject,  by  an 
unusual  liveliness.  In  this  respect  the  author  in  no  way  resembles 
.  .  .  the  majority  of  German  scholars  who  .  „  .  write  their  books 
in  a  language  so  dry  and  obscure  that  the  heads  of  ordinary  mortals  are 
clacked  by  it." 

22  Author's  Prefaces. 

omists."  M.  Block — "Les  theoriciens  du  socialisme  en  Alle- 
magne,  Extrait  du  Journal  des  Economistes,  Juillet  et  Aout 
1872" — makes  the  discovery  that  my  method  is  analytic  and 
says :  "Par  cet  ouvrage  M.  Marx  se  classe  parmi  les  esprits 
analytiques  les  plus  eminents."  German  reviews,  of  course, 
shriek  out  at  "Hegelian  sophistics."  The  European  Messenger 
of  St.  Petersburg,  in  an  article  dealing  exclusively  with  the 
method  of  "Das  Kapital"  (May  number,  1872,  pp.  427-436), 
finds  my  method  of  inquiry  severely  realistic,  but  my  method 
of  presentation,  unfortunately,  German-dialectical.  It  says: 
"At  first  sight,  if  the  judgment  is  based  on  the  external  form 
of  the  presentation  of  the  subject,  Marx  is  the  most  ideal  of 
ideal  philosophers,  always  in  the  German,  i.e.,  the  bad  sense 
of  the  word.  But  in  point  of  fact  he  is  infinitely  more  realis- 
tic than  all  his  fore-runners  in  the  work  of  economic  criticism. 
He  can  in  no  sense  be  called  an  idealist."  I  cannot  answer 
the  writer  better  than  by  aid  of  a  few  extracts  from  his  own 
criticism,  which  may  interest  some  of  my  readers  to  whom 
the  Russian  original  is  inaccessible. 

After  a  quotation  from  the  preface  to  my  "Critique  of 
Political  Economy,"  Berlin,  1859,  pp.  11-13,  where  I  discuss 
the  materialistic  basis  of  my  method,  the  writer  goes  on: 
"The  one  thing  which  is  of  moment  to  Marx  is  to  find  the  law 
of  the  phenomena  with  whose  investigation  he  is  concerned ; 
and  not  only  is  that  law  of  moment  to  him,  which  governs 
these  phenomena,  in  so  far  as  they  have  a  definite  form  and 
mutual  connection  within  a  given  historical  period.  Of  still 
greater  moment  to  him  is  the  law  of  their  variation,  of  their 
development,  i.e.,  of  their  transition  from  one  form  into 
another,  from  one  series  of  connections  into  a  different  one. 
This  law  once  discovered,  he  investigates  in  detail  the  effects 
in  which  it  manifests  itself  in  social  life.  Consequently,  Marx 
only  troubles  himself  about  one  thing;  to  show,  by  rigid  scien- 

Author's  Prefaces.  23 

tific  investigation,  the  necessity  of  successive  determinate 
orders  of  social  conditions,  and  to  establish,  as  impartially  as 
possible,  the  facts  that  serve  him  for  fundamental  starting 
points.  For  this  it  is  quite  enough,  if  he  proves,  at  the  same 
time,  both  the  necessity  of  the  present  order  of  things,  and 
the  necessity  of  another  order  into  which  the  first  must 
inevitably  pass  over;  and  this  all  the  same,  whether  men 
believe  or  do  not  believe  it,  whether  they  are  conscious  or  un- 
conscious of  it.  Marx  treats  the  social  movement  as  a  process 
of  natural  history,  governed  by  laws  not  only  independent  of 
human  will,  consciousness  and  intelligence,  but  rather,  on  the 
contrary,  determining  that  will,  consciousness  and  intelligence. 
.  .  .  If  in  the  history  of  civilisation  the  conscious  element 
plays  a  part  so  subordinate,  then  it  is  self-evident  that  a  critical 
inquiry  whose  subject-matter  is  civilisation,  can,  less  than 
anything  else,  have  for  its  basis  any  form  of,  or  any  result  of, 
consciousness.  That  is  to  say,  that  not  the  idea,  but  the 
material  phenomenon  alone  can  serve  as  its  starting-point. 
Such  an  inquiry  will  confine  itself  to  the  confrontation  and 
the  comparison  of  a  fact,  not  with  ideas,  but  with  another 
fact.  For  this  inquiry,  the  one  thing  of  moment  is,  that  both 
facts  be  investigated  as  accurately  as  possible,  and  that  they 
actually  form,  each  with  respect  to  the  other,  different  mo- 
menta of  an  evolution ;  but  most  important  of  all  is  the  rigid 
analysis  of  the  series  of  successions,  of  the  sequences  and 
concatenations  in  which  the  different  stages  of  such  an  evolu- 
tion present  themselves.  But  it  will  be  said,  the  general  laws 
of  economic  life  are  one  and  the  same,  no  matter  whether 
they  are  applied  to  the  present  or  the  past.  This  Marx  directly 
denies.  According  to  him,  such  abstract  laws  do  not  exist. 
On  the  contrary,  in  his  opinion  every  historical  period  has 
laws  of  its  own.  ...  As  soon  as  society  has  outlived  a  given 
period  of  development,   and  is  passing  over  from  one  given 

124  Author's  Prefaces. 

stage  to  another,  it  begins  to  be  subject  also  to  other  laws. 
Ln  a  word,  economic  life  offers  us  a  phenomenon  analogous 
to  the  history  of  evolution  in  other  branches  of  biology.  The 
old  economists  misunderstood  the  nature  of  economic  laws 
when  they  likened  them  to  the  laws  of  physics  and  chemistry. 
A  more  thorough  analysis  of  phenomena  shows  that  social 
organisms  differ  among  themselves  as  fundamentally  as  plants 
or  animals.  Nay,  one  and  the  same  phenomenon  falls  under 
quite  different  laws  in  consequence  of  the  different  structure 
of  those  organisms  as  a  whole,  of  the  variations  of  their 
individual  organs,  of  the  different  conditions  in  which  those 
organs  function,  &c.  Marx,  e.g.,  denies  that  the  law  of 
population  is  the  same  at  all  times  and  in  all  places.  He 
asserts,  on  the  contrary,  that  every  stage  of  development  has 
its  own  law  of  population.  .  .  .  With  the  varying  degree  of 
levelopment  of  productive  power,  social  conditions  and  the 
laws  governing  them  vary  too.  Whilst  Marx  sets  himself  the 
task  of  following  and  explaining  from  this  point  of  view  the 
economic  system  established  by  the  sway  of  capital,  he  is 
only  formulating,  in  a  strictly  scientific  manner,  the  aim  that 
every  accurate  investigation  into  economic  life  must  have. 
The  scientific  value  of  such  an  inquiry  lies  in  the  disclosing 
of  the  special  laws  that  regulate  the  origin,  existence,  develop- 
ment, and  death  of  a  given  social  organism  and  its  replacement 
by  another  and  higher  one.  And  it  is  this  value  that,  in  point 
of  fact,  Marx's  book  has." 

Whilst  the  writer  pictures  what  he  takes  to  be  actually  my 
method,  in  this  striking  and  [as  far  as  concerns  my  own 
application  of  it]  generous  way,  what  else  is  he  picturing  but 
the  dialectic  method  ? 

Of  course  the  method  of  presentation  must  differ  in  form 
from  that  of  inquiry.  The  latter  has  to  appropriate  the  ma- 
terial in  detail,  to  analyse  its  different  forms  of  development, 

Author's  Prefaces.  25 

to  trace  out  their  inner  connection.  Only  after  this  work  is 
done,  can  the  actual  movement  be  adequately  described.  If 
this  is  done  successfully,  if  the  life  of  the  subject-matter  is 
ideally  reflected  as  in  a  mirror,  then  it  may  appear  as  if  we  had 
before  us  a  mere  a  priori  construction. 

My  dialectic  method  is  not  only  different  from  the  Hegel- 
ian, but  is  its  direct  opposite.  To  Hegel,  the  life-process  of 
the  human  brain,  i.e.,  the  process  of  thinking,  which,  under 
the  name  of  "the  Idea,"  he  even  transforms  into  an  inde- 
pendent subject,  is  the  demiurgos  of  the  real  world,  and  the 
real  world  is  only  the  external,  phenomenal  form  of  "the 
Idea."  With  me,  on  the  contrary,  the  ideal  is  nothing  else 
than  the  material  world  reflected  by  the  human  mind,  and 
translated  into  forms  of  thought. 

The  mystifying  side  of  Hegelian  dialectic  I  criticised  nearly 
thirty  years  ago,  at  a  time  when  it  was  still  the  fashion.  But 
just  as  I  was  working  at  the  first  volume  of  "Das  Kapital," 
it  was  the  good  pleasure  of  the  peevish,  arrogant,  mediocre 
E7rtyovoiVv'ho  now  talk  large  in  cultured  Germany,  to  treal 
Hegel  in  the  same  way  as  the  brave  Moses  Mendelssohn  in 
Lessing's  time  treated  Spinoza,  i.e.,  as  a  "dead  dog."  I  there- 
fore openly  avowed  myself  the  pupil  of  that  mighty  thinker, 
and  even  here  and  there,  in  the  chapter  on  the  theory  of  value, 
coquetted  with  the  modes  of  expression  peculiar  to  him.  The 
mystification  which  dialectic  suffers  in  Hegel's  hands,  by  no 
means  prevents  him  from  being  the  first  to  present  its  general 
form  of  working  in  a  comprehensive  and  conscious  manner. 
With  him  it  is  standing  on  its  head.  It  must  be  turned  right 
side  up  again,  if  you  would  discover  the  rational  kernel  within 
the  mystical  shell. 

In  its  mystified  form,  dialectic  became  the  fashion  in  Ger- 
many, because  it  seemed  to  transfigure  and  to  glorify  thf 
existing  state  of  things.     In  its  rational  form  it  is  a  scandal 

26  Author's  Prefaces. 

and  abomination  to  bourgeoisdom  and  its  doctrinaire  pro- 
fessors, because  it  includes  in  its  comprehension  and  af- 
firmative recognition  of  the  existing  state  of  things,  at  the 
same  time  also,  the  recognition  of  the  negation  of  that  state, 
of  its  inevitable  breaking  up;  because  it  regards  every  his- 
torically developed  social  form  as  in  fluid  movement,  and 
therefore  takes  into  account  its  transient  nature  not  less  than 
its  momentary  existence ;  because  it  lets  nothing  impose  upon 
it,  and  is  in  its  essence  critical  and  revolutionary. 

The  contradictions  inherent  in  the  movement  of  capitalist 
society  impress  themselves  upon  the  practical  bourgeois  most 
strikingly  in  the  changes  of  the  periodic  cycle,  through  which 
modern  industry  runs,  and  whose  crowning  point  is  the  uni- 
versal crisis.  That  crisis  is  once  again  approaching,  although 
as  yet  but  in  its  preliminary  stage ;  and  by  the  universality  of 
its  theatre  and  the  intensity  of  its  action  it  will  drum  dialectics 
even  into  the  heads  of  the  mushroom-upstarts  of  the  new,  holy 
Prusso-German  empire. 


London,  January  24,  1873. 


rpiHE  publication  of  an  English  version  of  "Das  Kapital" 
■*■  needs  no  apology.  On  the  contrary,  an  explanation 
might  be  expected  why  this  English  version  has  been  delayed 
until  now,  seeing  that  for  some  years  past  the  theories  advo- 
cated in  this  book  have  been  constantly  referred  to,  attacked 
and  defended,  interpreted  and  mis-interpreted,  in  the  period- 
ical press  and  the  current  literature  of  both  England  and 

When,  soon  after  the  author's  death  in  1883,  it  became 
evident  that  an  English  edition  of  the  work  was  really  re- 
quired, Mr.  Samuel  Moore,  for  many  years  a  friend  of  Marx 
and  of  the  present  writer,  and  than  whom,  perhaps,  no  one 
is  more  conversant  with  the  book  itself,  consented  to  undertake 
the  translation  which  the  literary  executors  of  Marx  were 
anxious  to  lay  before  the  public.  It  was  understood  that  I 
should  compare  the  MS.  with  the  original  work,  and  suggest 
such  alterations  as  I  might  deem  advisable.  When,  by  and 
by,  it  was  found  that  Mr.  Moore's  professional  occupations 
prevented  him  from  finishing  the  translation  as  quickly  as 
we  all  desired,  we  gladly  accepted  Dr.  Aveling's  offer  to 
undertake  a  portion  of  the  work;  at  the  same  time  Mrs. 
Aveling,  Marx's  youngest  daughter,  offered  to  check  the 
quotations  and  to  restore  the  original  text  of  the  numerous 
passages  taken  from  English  authors  and  Bluebooks  and  trans- 
lated by  Marx  into  German.  This  has  been  done  throughout, 
with  but  a  few  unavoidable  exceptions. 


28  Editors  Preface. 

The  following  portions  of  the  book  have  been  translated  by 
Dr.  Aveling:  (1)  Chapters  X.  (The  Working  Day),  and 
XI.  (Rate  and  Mass  of  Surplus- Value) ;  (2)  Part  VI. 
(Wages,  comprising  Chapters  XIX.  to  XXII.) ;  (3)  from 
Chapter  XXIV,  Section  4  (Circumstances  that  &c.)  to  the 
end  of  the  book,  comprising  the  latter  part  of  Chapter  XXIV., 
Chapter  XXV.2  and  the  whole  of  Part  VIII.  (Chapters 
XXVI.  to  XXXIII.)  ;  (4)  the  two  Author's  prefaces.  All 
the  rest  of  the  book  has  been  done  by  Mr.  Moore.  While, 
thus,  each  of  the  translators  is  responsible  for  his  share  of  the 
work  only,  I  bear  a  joint  responsibility  for  the  whole. 

The  third  German  edition,  which  has  been  made  the  basis 
of  our  work  throughout^  was  prepared  by  me,  in  1883,  with 
the  assistance  of  notes  left  by  the  author,  indicating  the 
passages  of  the  second  edition  to  be  replaced  by  designated 
passages,  from  the  French  text  published  in  1873.1  The  alter- 
ations thus  effected  in  the  text  of  the  second  edition  generally 
coincided  with  changes  prescribed  by  Marx  in  a  set  of  MS. 
instructions  for  an  English  translation  that  was  planned, 
about  ten  years  ago,  in  America,  but  abandoned  chiefly  for 
want  of  a  fit  and  proper  translator.  This  MS.  was  placed 
at  our  disposal  by  our  old  friend  Mr.  F.  A.  Sorge  of  Hoboken 
N.J".  It  designates  some  further  interpolations  from  the 
French  edition ;  but,  being  so  many  years  older  than  the  final 
instructions  for  the  third  edition,  I  did  not  consider  myself 
at  liberty  to  make  use  of  it  otherwise  than  sparingly,  and 
chiefly  in  cases  where  it  helped  us  over  difficulties.  In  the 
same  way,  the  French  text  has  been  referred  to  in  most  of 
the  difficult  passages,  as  an  indicator  of  what  the  author  him- 
self was  prepared  to  sacrifice  wherever  something  of  the  full 

i  "Le  Capital,"  par  Karl  Marx.  Traduction  de  M.  J.  Eoy,  entiere- 
ment  revisee  par  l'auteur.  Paris.  Lachatre."  This  translation,  especially 
in  the  latter  part  of  the  book,  contains  considerable  alterations  in  and 
additions  to  the  text  of  the  second  German  edition. 

Editor's  Preface.  29 

import  of  the  original  had  to  be  sacrificed  in  the  rendering. 
There  is,  however,  one  difficulty  we  could  not  spare  the 
reader :  the  use  of  certain  terms  in  a  sense  different  from  what 
they  have,  not  only  in  common  life,  but  in  ordinary  political 
economy.  But  this  was  unavoidable.  Every  new  aspect  of 
a  science  involves  a  revolution  in  the  technical  terms  of  that 
science.  This  is  best  shown  by  chemistry,  where  the  whole 
of  the  terminology  is  radically  changed  about  once  in  twenty 
years,  and  where  you  will  hardly  find  a  single  organic  com- 
pound that  has  not  gone  through  a  whole  series  of  different 
names.  Political  Economy  has  generally  been  content  to  take, 
just  as  they  were,  the  terms  of  commercial  and  industrial  life, 
and  to  operate  with  them,  entirely  failing  to  see  that  by  so 
doing,  it  confined  itself  within  the  narrow  circle  of  ideas  ex- 
pressed by  those  terms.  Thus,  though  perfectly  aware  that 
both  profits  and  rent  are  but  sub-divisions,  fragments  of  that 
unpaid  part  of  the  product  which  the  laborer  has  to  supply 
to  his  employer  (its  first  appropriator,  though  not  its  ultimate 
exclusive  owner),  yet  even  classical  Political  Economy  never 
went  beyond  the  received  notions  of  profits  and  rent  never  ex- 
amined this  unpaid  part  of  the  product  (called  by  Marx  sur- 
plus-product) in  its  integrity  as  a  whole,  and  therefore  never 
arrived  at  a  clear  comprehension,  either  of  it  origin  and 
nature,  or  of  the  laws  that  regulate  the  subsequent  distribution 
of  its  value.  Similarly  all  industry,  not  agricultural  or 
handicraft,  is  indiscriminately  comprised  in  ihe  term  o_  manu- 
facture, and  thereby  the  distinction  is  obliterated  betwea. 
two  great  and  essentially  different  periods  of  economic  1  istory : 
the  period  of  manufacture  proper,  based  on  the  division  of 
manual  labor,  and  the  period  of  modern  industry  based  0 
machinery.  It  is,  however,  self-evident  that  -  theory  which. 
views  modern  capitalist  production  as  a  mere  passing  stage  in 
the  economic  history  of  mankind,  must  make  use  of  terms 

go  Editor's  Preface. 

different  from  those  habitual  to  writers  who  look  upon  that 
form  of  production  as  imperishable  and  final. 

A  word  respecting  the  author's  method  of  quoting  may  not 
be  out  of  place.  In  the  majority  of  cases,  the  quotations  serve, 
in  the  usual  way,  as  documentary  evidence  in  support  of 
assertions  made  in  the  text.  But  in  many  instances,  passages 
from  economic  writers  are  quoted  in  order  to  indicate  when, 
where,  and  by  whom  a  certain  proposition  was  for  the  first 
time  clearly  enunciated.  This  is  done  in  cases  where  the 
proposition  quoted  is  of  importance  as  being  a  more  or  less 
adequate  expression  of  the  conditions  of  social  production 
and  exchange  prevalent  at  the  time,  and  quite  irrespective 
of  Marx's  recognition,  or  otherwise,  of  its  general  validity. 
These  quotations,  therefore,  supplement  the  text  by  a  running 
commentary  taken  from  the  history  of  the  science. 

Our  translation  comprises  the  first  book  of  the  work  only. 
But  this  first  book  is  in  a  great  measure  a  whole  in  itself, 
and  has  for  twenty  years  ranked  as  an  independent  work. 
The  second  book,  edited  in  German  by  me,  in  1885,  is  de- 
cidedly incomplete  without  the  third,  which  cannot  be  pub- 
lished before  the  end  of  1887.  When  Book  III.  has  been 
brought  out  in  the  original  German,  it  will  then  be  soon 
enough  to  think  about  preparing  an  English  edition  of  both. 

"Das  Kapital"  is  often  called,  on  the  Continent,  "the  Bible 
of  the  working  class."  That  the  conclusions  arrived  at  in 
this  work  are  df  \  more  and  more  becoming  the  fundamental 
principles  of  the  great  working  clnss  movement,  not  only  in 
Germany  and  Switzerland,  but  in  France,  in  Holland  and 
Belgium,  in  America,  and  even  in  Italy  and  Spain ;  that  every- 
where the  working  class  more  and  more  recognises,  in  these 
conclusions,  the  most  adequate  expression  of  its  condition  and 
of  its  aspirations,  nobody  acquainted  with  that  movement  will 
deny.     And  in  England,  too,  the  theories  of  Marx,  even  at  this 

Editor's  Preface.  31 

moment,  exercise  a  powerful  influence  upon  the  socialist  move- 
ment which  is  spreading  in  the  ranks  of  "cultured"  people 
no  less  than  in  those  of  the  working  class.  But  that  is  not 
all.  The  time  is  rapidly  approaching  when  a  thorough  ex- 
amination of  England's  economic  position  will  impose  itself 
as  an  irresistible  national  necessity.  The  working  of  the  in- 
dustrial system  of  this  country,  impossible  without  a  constant 
and  rapid  extension  of  production,  and  therefore  of  markets, 
is  coming  to  '  dead  stop.  Free  trade  has  exhausted  its  re- 
sources; even  Manchester  doubts  this  its  quondam  economic 
gospel.1  Foreign  industry,  rapidly  developing,  stares  Eng- 
lish production  in  the  face  everywhere,  not  only  in  protected, 
but  also  in  neutral  markets,  and  even  on  this  side  of  the 
Channel.  While  the  productive  power  increases  in  a  geomet- 
ric, the  extension  of  markets  proceeds  at  best  in  an  arithmetic 
ratio.  The  decennial  cycle  of  stagnation,  prosperity,  over- 
production and  crisis,  ever  recurrent  from  1825  to  1867, 
seems  indeed  to  have  run  its  course ;  but  only  to  land  us  in  the 
slough  of  despond  of  a  permanent  and  chronic  depression. 
The  sighed-for  period  of  prosperity  will  not  come;  as  often 
as  we  seem  to  perceive  its  heralding  symptoms,  so  often  do 
they  again  vanish  into  air.  Meanwhile,  each  succeeding  winter 
brings  up  afresh  the  great  question,  "what  to  do  with  the 
unemployed ;"  but  while  the  number  of  the  unemployed  keeps 
swelling  from  year  to  year,  there  is  nobody  to  answer  that 
question;  and  we  can  almost  calculate  the  moment  when  the 
unemployed,   losing  patience,  will  take  their  own  fate  into 

1  At  the  quarterly  meeting  of  the  Manchester  Chamber  of  Commerce, 
held  this  afternoon,  a  warm  discussion  took  place  on  the  subject  of  Free 
Trade.  A  resolution  was  moved  to  the  effect  that  "having  waited  in  vain 
40  years  for  other  nations  to  follow  the  Free  Trade  example  of  England, 
this  Chamber  thinks  the  time  has  now  arrived  to  reconsider  that  posi- 
tion." The  resolution  was  rejected  by  a  majority  of  one  only,  the 
figures  being  21  for,  and  22  against. — Evening  Standard,  Nov.  1,  1886. 

^2      Editor's  Preface  to  the  Fourth  German  Edition. 

their  own  hands.  Surely,  at  such  a  moment,  the  voice  ought 
to  be  heard  of  a  man  whose  whole  theory  is  the  result  of  a 
life-long  study  of  the  economic  history  and  condition  of  Eng- 
land, and  whom  that  study  led  to  the  conclusion  that,  at  least 
in  Europe,  England  is  the  only  country  where  the  inevitable 
social  revolution  might  be  effected  entirely  by  peaceful  and 
legal  means.  He  certainly  never  forgot  to  add  that  he  hardly 
expected  the  English  ruling  classes  to  submit,  without  a  "pro- 
slavery  rebellion,"  to  this  peaceful  and  legal  revolution. 


November  5,  1886. 


The  fourth  edition  of  this  work  required  of  me  a  revision, 
which  should  give  to  the  text  and  foot  notes  their  final  form, 
so  far  as  possible.  The  following  brief  hints  will  indicate 
the  way  in  which  I  performed  this  task. 

After  referring  once  more  to  the  French  edition  and  to  the 
manuscript  notes  of  Marx,  I  transferred  a  few  additional  pass- 
ages from  the  French  to  the  German  text.1 

I  have  also  placed  the  long  foot  note  concerning  the  wine 
workers,  on  pages  461-67,  into  the  text,  just  as  had  already 
been  done  in  the  French  and  English  editions.  Other  small 
changes  are  merely  of  a  technical  nature. 

Furthermore  I  added  a  few  explanatory  notes,  especially 
in  places  where  changed  historical  conditions  seemed  to  require 
it.  All  these  additional  notes  are  placed  between  brackets 
and  marked  with  my  initials.2 

i  These  were  inserted  by  me  in  the  English  text  of  the  Swan  Sonnen- 
schein  edition,  and  will  be  found  on  pages  539,  640-644,  687-689,  and 
892  of  this  American  edition. — E.   U. 

2  These  were  ten  new  notes,  which  I  inserted  in  the  respective  places  of 
the  Swan  Sonnenschein  edition. — E.  U. 

Editor's  Preface  to  the  Fourth  German  Edition.       33 

A  complete  revision  of  the  numerous  quotations  had  become 
necessary,  because  the  English  edition  had  been  published  in 
the  mean  time.  Marx's  youngest  daughter,  Eleanor,  had  un- 
dertaken the  tedious  task  of  comparing,  for  this  edition,  all 
the  quotations  with  the  original  works,  so  that  the  quotations 
from  English  authors,  which  are  the  overwhelming  majority, 
are  not  retranslated  from  the  German,  but  taken  from  the 
original  texts.  I  had  to  consult  the  English  edition  for  this 
fourth  German  edition.  In  so  doing  I  found  many  small 
inaccuracies.  There  were  references  to  wrong  pages,  due 
either  to  mistakes  in  copying,  or  to  accumulated  typographical 
errors  of  three  editions.  There  were  quotation  marks,  or 
periods  indicating  omissions,  in  wrong  places,  such  as  would 
easily  occur  in  making  copious  quotations  from  notes.  Now 
and  then  I  came  across  a  somewhat  inappropriate  choice  of 
terms  made  in  translating.  Some  passages  were. taken  from 
Marx's  old  manuscripts  written  in  Paris,  1843-45,  when  he 
did  not  yet  understand  English  and  read  the  works  of  English 
economists  in  French  translations.  This  twofold  translation 
carried  with  it  a  slight  change  of  expression,  for  instance  in 
the  case  of  Steuart,  Ure,  and  others.  Now  I  used  the  English 
text.  Such  and  similar  little  inaccuracies  and  inadvertences 
were  corrected.  And  if  this  fourth  edition  is  now  compared 
with  former  editions,  it  will  be  found  that  this  whole  tedious 
process  of  verification  did  not  change  in  the  least  any  essential 
statement  of  this  work.  There  is  but  one  single  quotation 
which  could  not  be  located,  namely  that  from  Richard  Jones, 
in  section  3  of  chapter  XXIV.  Marx  probably  made  a  mis- 
take in  the  title  of  the  book.  All  other  quotations  retain  their 
corroborative  power,  or  even  increase  it  in  their  present  exact 

In  this  connection  I  must  revert  to  an  old  story. 

I  have  heard  of  only  one  case,  in  which  the  genuineness  of 

34      Editor's  Preface  to  the  Fourth  German  Edition. 

a  quotation  by  Marx  was  questioned.  Since  this  case  was 
continued  beyond  Marx's  death,  I  cannot  well  afford  to  ignore 

The  Berlin  Concordia,  the  organ  of  the  German  Manufac-> 
turer's  Association,  published  on  March  7,  1872,  an  anony- 
mous article,  entitled :  "How  Marx  Quotes."  In  it  the  writer 
asserted  with  a  superabundant  display  of  moral  indignation 
and  unparliamentarian  expressions  that  the  quotation  from 
Gladstone's  budget  speech  of  April  16,  1863,  (cited  in  the 
Inaugural  Address  of  the  International  Workingmen's  Asso- 
ciation, 1864,  and  republished  in  Capital,  volume  I,  chapter 
XXV,  section  5  a)  was  a  falsification.  It  was  denied  that  the 
statement:  "This  intoxicating  augmentation  of  wealth  and 
power  .  .  .  entirely  confined  to  classes  of  property,"  was 
contained  in  the  stenographical  report  of  Hansard,  which  was 
as  good  as  an  official  report.  "This  statement  is  not  found 
anywhere  in  Gladstone's  speech.  It  says  just  the  reverse. 
Marx  has  formally  and  materially  lied  in  adding  thai  sen- 

Marx,  who  received  this  issue  of  the  Concordia  in  May  of 
the  same  year,  replied  to  the  anonymous  writer  in  the  Volks- 
staat  of  June  1.  As  he  did  not  remember  the  particular 
newspaper  from  which  he  had  clipped  this  report,  he  con- 
tented himself  with  pointing  out  that  the  same  quotation  was 
contained  in  two  English  papers.  Then  he  quoted  the  report 
of  the  Times,  according  to  which  Gladstone  had  said :  "That 
is  the  state  of  the  case  as  regards  the  wealth  of  this  country. 
I  must  say  for  one,  I  should  look  almost  with  apprehension 
and  with  pain  upon  this  intoxicating  augmentation  of  wealth 
and  power,  if  it  were  my  belief  that  it  was  confined  to  classes 
who  are  in  easy  circumstances.  This  takes  no  cognizance  at 
all  of  the  condition  of  the  labouring  population.  The  aug- 
mentation I  have  described  and  which  is  founded,  I  think, 

Editors  Preface  to  the  Fourth  German  Edition      35 

upon  accurate  terms,  is  an  augmentation  entirely  confined  to 
classes  of  property." 

In  other  words,  Gladstone  says  here  that  he  would  be  sorry 
if  things  were  that  way,  but  they  are.  This  intoxicating  aug- 
mentation of  wealth  and  power  is  entirely  confined  to  classes 
of  property.  And  so  far  as  the  quasi  official  Hansard  is  con- 
cerned, Marx  continues :  "In  the  subsequent  manipulation  of 
his  speech  for  publication  Mr.  Gladstone  was  wise  enough  to 
eliminate  a  passage,  which  was  so  compromising  in  the  mouth 
of  an  English  Lord  of  the  Exchequer  as  that  one.  By  the 
way,  this  is  an  established  custom  in  English  parliament,  and 
not  by  any  means  a  discovery  made  by  Lasker  to  cheat  Bebel." 

The  anonymous  writer  then  became  still  madder.  Pushing 
aside  his  second-hand  sources  in  his  reply  in  the  Concordia, 
July  4,  he  modestly  hints,  that  it  is  the  "custom"  to  quote 
parliamentarian  speeches  from  the  official  reports;  that  the 
report  of  the  Times  (which  contained  the  added  lie)  "was 
materially  identical"  with  that  of  Hansard  (which  did  not 
contain  it)  ;  that  the  report  of  the  Times  even  said  "just  the 
reverse  of  what  that  notorious  passage  of  the  Inaugural  Ad- 
dress implied."  Of  course,  our  anonymous  friend  keeps  still 
about  the  fact  that  the  report  of  the  Times  does  not  only  con- 
tain "just  the  reverse,"  but  also  "that  notorious  passage" ! 
JSTevertheless  he  feels  that  he  has  been  nailed  down,  and  that 
only  a  new  trick  can  save  him.  Hence  he  decorates  his  article, 
full  of  "insolent  mendacity,"  until  it  bristles  with  pretty 
epithets,  such  as  "bad  faith,"  "dishonesty,"  "mendacious  as- 
sertion," "that  lying  quotation,"  "insolent  mendacity,"  "a 
completely  spurious  quotation,"  "this  falsification,"  "simply 
infamous,"  etc.,  and  he  finds  himself  compelled  to  shift  the 
discussion  to  another  ground,  promising  "to  explain  in  a  sec- 
ond article,  what  interpretation  we  [the  "veracious"  anony- 
mous]  place  upon  the  meaning  of  Gladstone's  words."     As 

36       Editor's  Preface  to  the  Fourth  German  Edition. 

though  his  individual  opinion  had  anything  to  do  with  the 
matter !  This  second  article  is  published  in  the  Concordia 
of  July  11. 

Marx  replied  once  more  in  the  Volksstaat  of  August  7, 
quoting  also  the  reports  of  this  passage  in  the  Morning  Star 
and  Morning  Advertiser  of  April  17,  1863.  Both  of  them 
agree  in  quoting  Gladstone  to  the  effect  that  he  would  look 
with  apprehension,  etc.,  upon  this  intoxicating  augmentation 
of  wealth  and  power,  if  it  were  confined  to  classes  in  easy  cir- 
cumstances. But  this  augmentation  was  entirely  confined  to 
glasses  possessed  of  property.  Both  of  these  papers  also  con- 
tain the  "added  lie"  word  for  word.  Marx  furthermore 
showed,  by  comparing  these  three  independent,  yet  identical 
reports  of  newspapers,  all  of  them  containing  the  actually 
spoken  words  of  Gladstone,  with  Hansard's  report,  that  Glad- 
stone, in  keeping  with  the  "established  custom,"  had  "sub- 
sequently eliminated"  this  sentence,  as  Marx  had  said.  And 
Marx  closes  with  the  statement,  that  he  has  no  time  for  further 
controversy  with  the  anonymous  writer.  It  seems  that  this 
worthy  had  gotten  all  he  wanted,  for  Marx  received  no  more 
issues  of  the  Concordia. 

Thus  the  matter  seemed  to  be  settled.  It  is  true,  people 
who  were  in  touch  with  the  university  at  Cambridge  once  or 
twice  dropped  hints  as  to  mysterious  rumors  about  some  un- 
speakable literary  crime,  which  Marx  was  supposed  to  have 
committed  in  Capital.  But  nothing  definite  could  be  ascer- 
tained in  spite  of  all  inquiries.  Suddenly,  on  November  29, 
1883,  eight  months  after  the  death  of  Marx,  a  letter  appeared 
in  the  Times,  dated  at  Trinity  College,  Cambridge,  and  signed 
by  Sedley  Taylor,  in  which  this  mannikin,  a  dabbler  in  the 
tamest  of  cooperative  enterprises,  at  last  took  occasion  to  give 
us  some  light,  not  only  on  the  gossip  of  Cambridge,  but  also 
on  the  anonymous  of  the  Concordia. 

Editor's  Preface  to  the  Fourth  German  Edition.     $7 

"What  seems  very  queer,"  says  the  mannikin  of  Trinity 
College,  "is  that  it  remained  for  professor  Brentano  (then  in 
Breslau,  now  in  Strasburg)  ...  to  lay  bare  the  bad 
faith,  which  had  apparently  dictated  that  quotation  from 
Gladstone's  speech  in  the  Inaugural  Address.  Mr.  Karl  Marx, 
who  .  .  .  tried  to  justify  his  quotation,  had  the  temerity, 
in  the  deadly  shifts  to  which  Brentano' s  masterly  attacks 
quickly  reduced  him,  to  claim  that  Mr.  Gladstone  tampered 
with  the  report  of  his  speech  in  the  Times  of  April  17,  1863, 
before  it  was  published  in  Hansard,  in  order  to  eliminate  a 
passage  which  was,  indeed,  compromising  for  the  British 
Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer.  When  Brentano  demonstrated 
by  a  detailed  comparison  of  the  texts,  that  the  reports  of  the 
Times  and  of  Hansard  agreed  to  the  absolute  exclusion  of  the 
meaning,  impugned  to  Gladstone's  words  by  a  craftily  isolated 
quotation,  Marx  retreated  under  the  excuse  of  having  no  time." 

This,  then,  was  the  kernel  of  the  walnut !  And  such  was 
the  glorious  reflex  of  Brentano's  anonymous  campaign,  in  the 
Concordia,  in  the  cooperative  imagination  of  Cambridge ! 
Thus  he  lay,  and  thus  he  handled  his  blade  in  his  "masterly 
attack,"  this  Saint  George  of  the  German  Manufacturers'  As- 
sociation, while  the  fiery  dragon  Marx  quickly  expired  under 
his  feet  "in  deadly  shifts !" 

However,  this  Ariostian  description  of  the  struggle  serves 
only  to  cover  up  the  shifts  of  our  Saint  George.  There  is  no 
longer  any  mention  of  "added  lies,"  of  "falsification,"  but 
merely  of  "a  craftily  isolated  quotation."  The  whole  question 
had  been  shifted,  and  Saint  George  and  his  Cambridge  Knight 
knew  very  well  the  reason. 

Eleanor  Marx  replied  in  the  monthly  magazine  To-Day, 
February,  1884,  because  the  Times  refused  to  print  her  state- 
ments. She  reduced  the  discussion  to  the  only  point,  which 
was  in  question,  namely:    Was  that  sentence  a  lie  added  by 

38      Editor  s  Preface  to  the  Fourth  German  Edition. 

Marx,  or  not  ?  Whereupon  Mr.  Sedley  Taylor  retorted :  "The 
question  whether  a  certain  sentence  had  occurred  in  Mr.  Glad- 
stone's speech  or  not"  was,  in  his  opinion,  "of  a  very  inferior 
importance"  in  the  controversy  between  Marx  and  Brentano, 
"compared  with  the  question,  whether  the  quotation  had  been 
made  with  the  intention  of  reproducing  the  meaning  of  Mr. 
Gladstone  or  distorting  it."  And  then  he  admits  that  the 
report  of  the  Times  "contains  indeed  a  contradiction  in 
words" ;  but,  interpreting  the  context  correctly,  that  is, 
in  a  liberal  Gladstonian  sense,  it  is  evident  what  Mr.  Gladstone 
intended  to  say.  {To-Day,  March,  1884.)  The  comic  thing 
about  this  retort  is  that  our  mannikin  of  Cambridge  now  in- 
sists on  not  quoting  this  speech  from  Hansard,  as  is  the 
"custom"  according  to  the  anonymous  Mr.  Brentano,  but  from 
the  report  of  the  Times,  which  the  same  Brentano  had  desig- 
nated as  "necessarily  bungling."  Of  course,  Hansard  does 
not  contain  that  fatal  sentence ! 

It  was  easy  for  Eleanor  Marx  to  dissolve  this  argumentation 
into  thin  air  in  the  •  same  number  of  To-Day.  Either  Mr. 
Taylor  had  read  the  controversy  of  1872.  In  that  case  he  had 
now  "lied,"  not  only  "adding,"  but  also  "subtracting."  Or, 
he  had  not  read  it.  Then  it  was  his  business  to  keep  hi3 
mouth  shut.  At  any  rate,  it  was  evident  that  he  did  not  dare 
for  a  moment  to  maintain  the  charge  of  his  friend  Brentano 
to  the  effect  that  Marx  had  "added  a  lie."  On  the  contrary, 
it  was  now  claimed,  that  Marx,  instead  of  adding  a  lie,  had 
suppressed  an  important  sentence.  But  this  same  sentence  is 
quoted  on  page  5  of  the  Inaugural  Address,  a  few  lines  before 
the  alleged  "added  lie."  And  as  for  the  "contradiction"  in 
Gladstone's  speech,  isn't  it  precisely  Marx  who  speaks  in 
another  foot  note  of  that  chapter  in  Capital  of  the  "continual 
crying  contradictions  in  Gladstone's  budget  speeches  of  1863 
and  1864"  ?     Of  course,  he  does  not  undertake  xo  reconcile 

Editor's  Preface  to  the  Fourth  German  Edition.    39 

them  by  liberal  hot  air,  like  Sedley  Taylor.  And  the  final 
summing  up  in  Eleanor  Marx's  reply  is  this:  "On  the  con- 
trary, Marx  has  neither  suppressed  anything  essential  nor 
added  any  lies.  He  rather  has  restored  and  rescued  from 
oblivion  a  certain  sentence  of  a  Gladstonian  speech,  which  had 
undoubtedly  been  pronounced,  but  which  somehow  found  its 
way  out  of  Hansard." 

This  was  enough  for  Mr.  Sedley  Taylor.  The  result  of 
this  whole  professorial  gossip  during  ten  years  and  in  two 
great  countries  was  that  no  one  dared  henceforth  to  question 
Marx's  literary  conscientiousness.  In  the  future  Mr.  Sedley 
Taylor  will  probably  have  as  little  confidence  in  the  literary 
fighting  bulletins  of  Mr.  Brentano,  as  Mr.  Brentano  in  thf 
papal  infallibility  of  Hansard. 


London,  June  25,  1890. 

(Translated  by  Ernest  Untermann.,) 








THE  wealth  of  those  societies  in  which  the  capitalist  mode 
of  production  prevails,  presents  itself  as  "  an  immense 
accumulation  of  commodities,"  *  its  unit  being  a  single  com- 
modity. Our  investigation  must  therefore  begin  with  the 
analysis  of  a  commodity. 

A  commodity  is,  in  the  first  place,  an  object  outside  us,  a 
thing  that  by  its  properties  satisfies  human  wants  of  some  sort 
or  another.  The  nature  of  such  wants,  whether,  for  instance, 
they  spring  from  the  stomach  or  from  fancy,  makes  no  differ- 

1  Karl    Marx    "  A    Contribution     to    the    Critique    of    Political    Economy,"    1859, 
London,   p.   19. 


42  Capitalist  Production. 

ence.1  Neither  are  we  here  concerned  to  know  how  the  object 
satisfies  these  wants,  whether  directly  as  means  of  subsistence, 
or  indirectly  as  means  of  production. 

Every  useful  thing,  as  iron,  paper,  &c.,  may  be  looked  at 
from  the  two  points  of  view  of  quality  and  quantity.  It  is 
an  assemblage  of  many  properties,  and  may  therefore  be  of 
use  in  various  ways.  To  discover  the  various  use  of  things  is 
the  work  of  history.2  So  also  is  the  establishment  of  socially- 
recognised  standards  of  measure  for  the  quantities  of  these 
useful  objects.  The  diversity  of  these  measures  has  its  origin 
partly  in  the  diverse  nature  of  the  objects  to  be  measured, 
partly  in  convention. 

The  utility  of  a  thing  makes  it  a  use-value.3  But  this 
utility  is  not  a  thing  of  air.  Being  limited  by  the  physical 
properties  of  the  commodity,  it  has  no  existence  apart  from 
that  commodity.  A  commodity,  such  as  iron,  corn,  or  a 
diamond,  is  therefore,  so  far  as  it  is  a  material  thing,  a  use- 
value,  something  useful.  This  property  of  a  commodity  is 
independent  of  the  amount  of  labour  required  to  appropriate 
its  useful  qualities.  When  treating  of  use-value,  we  always 
assume  to  be  dealing  with  definite  quantities,  such  as  dozens 
of  watches,  yards  of  linen,  or  tons  of  iron.  The  use-values  of 
commodities  furnish  the  material  for  a  special  study,  that 
of  the  commercial  knowledge  of  commodities.4  Use-values 
become  a  reality  only  by  use  or  consumption:  they  also  con- 

1  "  Desire  implhs  want;  it  :»  the  appetite  of  the  mind,  and  as  natural  as  hunger 
to  the  body.  .  .  .  The  create-:  number  (of  things)  have  their  value  from  supply- 
ing the  wants  of  the  mind."  Nicolas  Barbon:  "A  Discourse  on  coining  the  new 
money  lighter,  in  answer  to  Mr.  Locke's  Considerations,"  &c.  London,  1696.  p. 
2,  3. 

8  "Things  have  an  intrinsick  virtue"  (this  is  Barbon's  special  term  for  value  in 
use)  "which  in  all  places  I  .ve  the  same  virtue;  as  the  loadstone  to  attract  iron" 
(1.  c.,  p.  6).  The  property  v/hich  the  magnet  possesses  of  attracting  iron,  became 
of  use  only  after  by  means  of  that  property  the  polarity  of  the  magnet  had  been 

8  "The  natural  worth  of  anything  consists  in  its  fitness  to  supply  the  necessities, 
or  serve  the  conveniences  of  human  life."  (John  Locke,  "Some  considerations  on 
the  consequences  of  the  lowering  of  interest,  1691,"  in  Works  Edit.  London,  1777, 
Vol.  II.,  p.  28.)  In  English  writers  of  the  17th  century  we  frequently  find  "worth" 
in  the  sense  of  value  in  use,  and  "value"  in  the  sense  of  exchange  value.  This 
is  quite  in  accordance  with  the  spirit  of  a  language  that  likes  to  use  a  Teutonic 
word    for   the    actual    thing,    and   a    Romance   word    for    its   reflexion. 

*  in  Dourgeois  societies  tne  economical  hctio  juris  prevails,  that  every  one,  as  a 
buyer,  possesses  an  encyclopa;dic  knowledge  of  commodities. 

Commodities.  43 

stitute  the  substance  of  all  wealth,  whatever  may  be  the  social 
form  of  that  wealth.  In  the  form  of  society  we  are  about  to 
consider,  they  are,  in  addition,  the  material  depositories  of 
exchange  value. 

Exchange  value,  at  first  sight,  presents  itself  as  a  quantitative 
relation,  as  the  proportion  in  which  values  in  use  of  one  sort 
are  exchanged  for  those  of  another  sort,1  a  relation  constantly 
changing  with  time  and  place.  Hence  exchange  vrlue  appears 
to  be  something  accidental  and  purely  relative,  and  conse- 
quently an  intrinsic  value,  i.  e.,  an  exchange  value  that  is 
inseparably  connected  with,  inherent  in  commodities,  seems  a 
contradiction  in  terms.2  Let  us  consider  the  matter  a  little 
more  closely. 

A  given  commodity,  e.  g.,  a  quarter  of  wheat  is  exchanged 
for  x  blacking,  y  silk,  or  z  gold,  &c. — in  short,  for  other  com- 
modities in  the  most  different  proportions.  Instead  of  one 
exchange  value,  the  wheat  has,  therefore,  a  great  many.  But 
since  x  blacking,  y  silk,  or  z  gold,  &c.,  each  represent  the 
exchange  value  of  one  quarter  of  wheat,  x  blacking,  y  silk, 
z  gold,  &c,  must  as  exchange  values  be  replaceable  by  each 
other,  or  equal  to  each  other.  Therefore,  first:  the  valid 
exchange  values  of  a  given  commodity  express  something 
equal ;  secondly,  exchange  value,  generally,  is  only  the  mode 
of  expression,  the  phenomenal  form,  of  something  contained 
in  it,  yet  distinguishable  from  it. 

Let  us  take  two  commodities,  e.  g.,  corn  and  iron.  The  pro- 
portions in  which  they  are  exchangeable,  whatever  those  prc~ 
portions  may  be,  can  always  be  represented  by  an  equation  in 
which  a  given  quantity  of  corn  is  equated  to  some  quantity  of 
iron :  e.  g.,  1  quarter  corn=x  cwt.  iron.  What  does  this  equa- 
tion tell  us?  It  tells  us  that  in  two  different  things — in  1 
quarter  of  corn  and  x  cwt.  of  iron,  there  exists  in  equal  quan- 
tities something  common  to  both.     The  two  things  must  there- 

1  "La  valeur  consiste  dans  le  rapport  d'echange  qui  se  trouve  entre  telle  chose  et 
telle  autre,  entre  telle  mesure  d'une  production,  et  telle  mesure  d'une  autre."  (Le 
Trosne:      De    1'    Interet    Social.     Physiocrates,    Ed.    Daire.     Paris,    1845.     P.    889.) 

2  "Nothing  can  have  an  intrinsick  value."  (N.  Barbon,  1.  c,  p.  6) ;  or  as  But- 
ler says — 

"  The   value   of   a   thing 
Is    just    as    much    at    it    will    bring." 

44  Capitalist  Production. 

fore  be  equal  to  a  third,  which  in  itself  is  neither  the  one  nor 
the  other.  Each  of  them,  so  far  as  it  is  exchange  value,  must 
therefore  be  reducible  to  this  third. 

A  simple  geometrical  illustration  will  make  this  clear.  In 
order  to  calculate  and  compare  the  areas  of  rectilinear  figures, 
we  decompose  them  into  triangles.  But  the  area  of  the  tri- 
angle itself  is  expressed  by  something  totally  different  from  its 
visible  figure,  namely,  by  half  the  product  of  the  base  into 
the  altitude.  In  the  same  way  the  exchange  values  of  com- 
modities must  be  capable  of  being  expressed  in  terms  of  some- 
thing common  to  them  all,  of  which  thing  they  represent  a 
greater  or  less  quantity. 

This  common  "something"  cannot  be  either  a  geometrical, 
a  chemical,  or  any  other  natural  property  of  commodities. 
Such  properties  claim  our  attention  only  in  so  far  as  they 
affect  the  utility  of  those  commodities,  make  them  use-values. 
But  the  exchange  of  commodities  is  evidently  an  act  character- 
ised by  a  total  abstraction  from  use-value.  Then  .ne  use- 
value  is  just  as  good  as  another,  provided  only  it  be  present  in 
sufficient  quantity.  Or,  as  old  Barbon  says,  "one  sort  of 
wares  are  as  good  as  another,  if  the  values  be  equal.  There  is 
no  difference  or  distinction  in  things  of  equal  value  .... 
An  hundred  pounds'  worth  of  lead  or  iron,  is  of  as  great  value 
as  one  hundred  pounds'  worth  of  silver  or  gold."  *  As  use- 
values,  commodities  are,  above  all,  of  different  qualities,  but  as 
exchange  values  they  are  merely  different  quantities,  and  con- 
sequently do  not  contain  an  atom  of  use-value. 

If  then  we  leave  out  of  consideration  the  use-value  of  com- 
modities, they  have  only  one  common  property  left,  that  of 
being  products  of  labour.  But  even  the  product  of  labour 
itself  has  undergone  a  change  in  our  hands.  If  we  make 
abstraction  from  its  use-value,  we  make  abstraction  at  the 
same  time  from  the  material  elements  and  shapes  that  make 
the  product  a  use-value ;  we  see  in  it  no  longer  a  table,  a  house, 
yarn,  or  any  other  useful  thing.  Its  existence  as  a  material, 
thing  is  put  out  of  sight.  Neither  can  it  any  longer  be  re4 
garded  as  the  product  of  the  labour  of  the  joiner,  the  mason, 

1 N.    Barbon,   1.   c.   p.    53   and   7. 

Commodities.  45 

the  spinner,  or  of  any  other  definite  kind  of  productive 
labour^  Along  with  the  useful  qualities  of  the  products  them- 
selves, we  put  out  of  sight  both  the  useful  character  of  the 
various  kinds  of  labour  embodied  in  them,  and  the  concrete 
forms  of  that  labour ;  there  is  nothing  left  but  what  is  common 
to  them  all;  all  are  reduced  to  one  and  the  same  sort  of 
labour,  human  labour  in  the  abstract. 

Let  us  now  consider  the  residue  of  each  of  these  products; 
it  consists  of  the  same  unsubstantial  reality  in  each,  a  mere 
congelation  of  homogeneous  human  labour,  of  labour-power  ex- 
pended withoi  >  regard  to  the  mode  of  its  expenditure.  All 
that  these  things  now  tell  us  is,  that  human  labour-power  has 
been  expended  in  their  production,  that  human  labor  is  em- 
bodied in  them.  When  looked  at  as  crystals  of  this  social 
substance,  common  to  them  all,  they  are — Values. 

We  have  seen  that  when  commodities  are  exchanged,  their 
exchange  value  manifests  itself  as  something  totally  independ- 
ent of  their  use-value.  But  if  we  abstract  from  their  use-value, 
there  remains  their  Value  as  defined  above.  Therefore,  the 
common  substance  that  manifests  itself  in  the  exchange  value 
of  commodities,  whenever  they  are  exchanged,  is  their  value. 
The  progress  of  our  investigation  will  show  that  exchange 
value  is  the  only  form  in  zhich  the  value  of  commodities  can 
manifest  itself  or  be  expressed.  Tor  the  present,  however,  we 
have  to  consider  the  nature  of  value  independently  of  this,  its 

A  use-value,  or  useful  article,  therefore,  has  value  only  be- 
cause human  labour  in  the  abstract  has  been  embodied  or  ma- 
terialised in  it.  How,  then,  is  the  magnitude  of  this  value  to 
be  measured  ?  Plainly,  by  the  quantity  of  the  value-creating 
substance,  the  labour,  contained  in  the  article.  The  quantity 
of  labour,  however,  is  measured  by  its  duration,  and  labour- 
time  in  its  turn  finds  its  standard  in  weeks,  days,  and  hours. 

Some  people  might  think  that  if  the  value  of  a  commodity 
is  determined  by  the  quantity  of  labour  spent  on  it,  the  more 
idle  and  unskilful  the  labourer,  the  more  valuable  would  his 
commodity  be,  because  more  time  would  be  required  in  its 
production.     The  labour,  however,  that  forms  the  substance  of 

46  Capitalist  Production. 

value,  is  homogeneous  human  labour,  expenditure  of  one  uni- 
form labour-power.  The  total  labour-power  of  society,  which 
is  embodied  in  the  sum  total  of  the  values  of  all  commodities 
produced  by  that  society,  counts  here  as  one  homogeneous  mass 
of  human  labour-power,  composed  though  it  be  of  innumerable 
individual  units.  Each  of  these  units  is  the  same  as  any  other, 
so  far  as  it  has  the  character  of  the  average  labour-power  of 
society,  and  takes  effect  as  such ;  that  is,  so  far  as  it  requires  for 
producing  a  commodity,  no  more  time  than  is  needed  on  an 
average,  no  more  than  is  socially  necessary.  The  labour-time 
socially  necessary  is  that  required  to  produce  an  article  under 
the  normal  conditions  of  production,  and  with  the  average 
degree  of  skill  and  intensity  prevalent  at  the  time.  The  intro- 
duction of  power  looms  into  England  probably  reduced  by  one 
half  the  labour  required  to  weave  a  given  quantity  of  yarn  into 
cloth.  The  hand-loom  weavers,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  continued 
to  require  the  same  time  as  before ;  but  for  all  that,  the  pro- 
duct of  one  hour  of  their  labour  represented  after  the  change 
only  half  an  hour's  social  labour,  and  consequently  fell  to  one- 
half  its  former  value. 

We  see  then  that  that  which  determines  the  magnitude  of 
the  value  of  any  article  is  the  amount  of  labour  socially  neces- 
sary, or  the  labour- time  socially  necessary  for  its  production.1 
Each  individual  commodity,  in  this  connexion,  is  to  be  con- 
sidered as  an  average  sample  of  its  class.2  Commodities,  there- 
fore, in  which  equal  quantities  of  labour  are  embodied,  or 
which  can  be  produced  in  the  same  time,  have  the  same  value. 
The  value  of  one  commodity  is  to  the  value  of  any  other,  as  the 
labour-time  necessary  for  the  production  of  the  one  is  to  that 
necessary  for  the  production  of  the  other.  "As  values,  all  com- 
modities are  only  definite  masses  of  congealed  labour-time."  3 

1  The  value  of  them  (the  necessaries  of  life),  when  they  are  exchanged  the 
one  for  another,  is  regulated  by  the  quantity  of  labour  necessarily  required,  and 
commonly  taken  in  producing  them."  (Some  Thoughts  on  the  Interest  of  Money 
in  general,  and  particularly  in  the  Publick  Funds,  &c,  Lond.,  p.  36.)  This  re- 
markable anonymous  work,  written  in  the  last  century,  bears  no  date.  It  is 
clear,  however,  from  internal  evidence,  that  it  appeared  in  the  reign  of  George 
II.  about  1730  or  1740. 

2  "  Toutes  les  productions  d'un  meme  genre  ne  forment  proprement  qu'une  masse, 
dont  le  prix  se  determine  en  general  et  sans  egard  aux  circonstances  particulieres." 
(Le  Trosne,    1.   c.    p.   893.)  *  K.   Marx,    1.   c.    p.   24. 

Commodities.  47 

The  value  of  a  commodity  would  therefore  remain  constant, 
if  the  labour-time  required  for  its  production  also  remained 
constant.  But  the  latter  changes  with  every  variation  in  the 
productiveness  of  labour.  This  productiveness  is  determined 
by  various  circumstances,  amongst  others,  by  the  average 
amount  of  skill  of  the  workmen,  the  state  of  science,  and  the 
degree  of  its  practical  application,  the  social  organisation  of 
production,  the  extent  and  capabilities  of  the  means  of  pro- 
duction, and  by  physical  conditions.  For  example,  the 
same  amount  of  labour  in  favourable  seasons  is  embodied 
in  8  bushels  of  corn,  and  in  unfavourable,  only  in  four. 
The  same  labour  extracts  from  rich  mines  more  metal  than 
from  poor  mines.  Diamonds  are  of  very  rare  occurrence  on 
the  earth's  surface,  and  hence  their  discovery  costs,  on  an  aver- 
age, a  great  deal  of  labour-time.  Consequently  much  labour 
is  represented  in  a  small  compass.  Jacob  doubts  whether  gold 
has  ever  been  paid  for  at  its  full  value.  This  applies  still 
more  to  diamonds.  According  to  Eschwege,  the  total  produce 
of  the  Brazilian  diamond  mines  for  the  eighty  years,  ending 
in  1823,  had  not  realised  the  price  of  one-and-a-half  years' 
average  produce  of  the  sugar  and  coffee  plantations  of  the 
same  country,  although  the  diamonds  cost  much  more  labour, 
and  therefore  represented  more  value.  With  richer  mines,  the 
same  quantity  of  labour  would  embody  itself  in  more  diamonds 
and  their  value  would  fall.  If  we  could  succeed  at  a  small 
expenditure  of  labour,  in  converting  carbon  into  diamonds, 
their  value  might  fall  below  that  of  bricks.  In  general,  the 
greater  the  productiveness  of  labour,  the  less  is  the  labour-time 
required  for  the  production  of  an  article,  the  less  is  the  amount 
of  labour  crystallised  in  that  article,  and  the  less  is  its  value ; 
and  vise  versa,  the  less  the  productiveness  of  labour,  the  greater 
is  the  labour-time  required  for  the  production  of  an  article, 
and  the  greater  is  its  value.  The  value  of  a  commodity,  there- 
fore, varies  directly  as  the  quantity,  and  inversely  as  the 
productiveness,  of  the  labour  incorporated  in  it. 

A  thing  can  be  a  use-value,  without  having  value.  This  is 
the  case  whenever  its  utility  to  man  is  not  due  to  labour. 
Such  are  air,  virgin  soil,  natural  meadows,  &c.     A  thing  can 

48  Capitalist  Production. 

be  useful,  and  the  product  of  human  labour,  without  being  a 
commodity.  Whoever  directly  satisfies  his  wants  with  the 
produce  of  his  own  labour,  creates,  indeed,  use-values,  but  not 
commodities.  In  order  to  produce  the  latter,  he  must  not  only 
produce  use-values,  but  use-values  for  others,  social  use-values. 
Lastly,  nothing  can  have  value,  without  being  an  object  of 
utility.  If  the  thing  is  useless,  so  is  the  labour  contained  in 
it;  the  labour  does  not  count  as  labour,  and  therefore  creates 
no  value. 


At  first  sight  a  commodity  presented  itself  to  us  as  a  complex 
of  two  things — use-value  and  exchange-value.  Later  on,  we 
saw  also  that  labour,  too,  possesses  the  same  two-fold  nature ; 
for,  so  far  as  it  finds  expression  in  value,  it  does  not  possess  the 
same  characteristics  that  belong  to  it  as  a  creator  of  use-values. 
I  was  the  first  to  point  out  and  to  examine  critically  this  two- 
fold nature  of  the  labour  contained  in  commodities.  As  this 
point  is  the  pivot  on  which  a  clear  comprehension  of  political 
economy  turns,  we  must  go  more  into  detail. 

Let  us  take  two  commodities  such  as  a  coat  and  10  yards  of 
linen,  and  let  the  former  be  double  the  value  of  the  latter,  so 
that,  if  10  yards  of  linen=W,  the  coatp=2W. 

The  coat  is  a  use-value  that  satisfies  a  particular  want.  Its 
existence  is  the  result  of  a  special  sort  of  productive  activity, 
the  nature  of  which  is  determined  by  its  aim,  mode  of  opera- 
tion, subject,  means,  and  result.  The  labour,  whose  utility  is 
thus  represented  by  the  value  in  use  of  its  product,  or  which 
manifests  itself  by  making  its  product  a  use-value,  we  call 
useful  labour.  In  this  connexion  we  consider  only  its  useful 

As  the  coat  and  the  linen  are  two  qualitatively  different  use- 
values,  so  also  are  the  two  forms  of  labour  that  produce  them, 
tailoring  and  weaving.  Were  these  two  objects  not  quali- 
tatively different,  not  produced  respectively  by  labour  of 
different  quality,  they  could  not  stand  to  each  other  in  the 

Commodities.  49 

relation  of  commodities.  Coats  are  not  exchanged  for  coats, 
one  use-value  is  not  exchanged  for  another  of  the  same  kind. 

To  all  the  different  varieties  of  values  in  use  there  correspond 
as  many  different  kinds  of  useful  labour,  classified  according  tc 
the  order,  genus,  species,  and  variety  to  which  they  belong  in 
the  social  division  of  labour.  This  division  of  labour  is  a  neces- 
sary condition  for  the  production  of  commodities,  but  it  does 
not  follow  conversely,  that  the  production  of  commodities  is  a 
necessary  condition  for  the  division  of  labour.  In  the  primitive 
Indian  community  there  is  social  division  of  labour,  without 
production  of  commodities.  Or,  to  take  an  example  nearer 
home,  in  every  factory  the  labour  is  divided  according  to  a 
system,  but  this  division  is  not  brought  about  by  the  operatives 
mutually  exchanging  their  individual  products.  Only  such 
products  can  become  commodities  with  regard  to  each  other,  as 
result  from  different  kinds  of  labour,  each  kind  being  carried 
on  independently  and  for  the  account  of  private  individuals. 

To  resume,  then :  In  the  use-value  of  each  commodity  there 
is  contained  useful  labour,  i.  e.,  productive  activity  of  a  definite 
kind  and  exercised  with  a  definite  aim.  Use-values  cannot 
confront  each  other  as  commodities,  unless  the  useful  labour 
embodied  in  them  is  qualitatively  different  in  each  of  them. 
In  a  community,  the  produce  of  which  in  general  takes  the 
form  of  commodities,  i.  e.,  in  a  community  of  commodity  pro- 
ducers, this  qualitative  difference  between  the  useful  forms  of 
labour  that  are  carried  on  independently  by  individual  pro- 
ducers, each  on  their  own  account,  develops  into  a  complex 
system,  a  social  division  of  labour. 

Anyhow,  whether  the  coat  be  worn  by  the  tailor  or  by  his 
customer,  in  either  case  it  operates  as  a  use-value.  ISTor  is  the 
relation  between  the  coat  and  the  labour  that  produced  it 
altered  by  the  circumstance  that  tailoring  may  have  become  a 
special  trade,  an  independent  branch  of  the  social  division  of 
labour.  Wherever  the  want  of  clothing  forced  them  to  it,  the 
human  race  made  clothes  for  thousands  of  years,  without  a 
single  man  becoming  a  tailor.  But  coats  and  linen,  like  every 
other  element  of  material  wealth  that  is  not  the  spontaneous 
produce  of  nature,  must  invariably  owe  their  existence  to  a 

50  Capitalist  Production. 

special  productive  activity,  exercised  with  a  definite  aim,  an 
activity  that  appropriates  particular  nature-given  materials  to 
particular  human  wants.  So  far  therefore  as  labour  is  a 
creator  of  use-value,  is  useful  labour,  it  is  a  necessary  con- 
dition, independent  of  all  forms  of  society,  for  the  existence  of 
the  human  race ;  it  is  an  eternal  nature-imposed  necessity, 
without  which  there  can  be  no  material  exchanges  between 
man  and  Nature,  and  therefore  no  life. 

The  use-values,  coat,  linen,  &c,  i.  e.,  the  bodies  of  commodi- 
ties, are  combinations  of  two  elements — matter  and  labour. 
If  we  take  away  the  useful  labour  expended  upon  them,  a 
material  substratum  is  always  left,  which  is  furnished  by 
Nature  without  the  help  of  man.  The  latter  can  work  only  as 
Nature  does,  that  is  by  changing  the  form  of  matter.1  Nay 
more,  in  this  work  of  changing  the  form  he  is  constantly  helped 
by  natural  forces.  We  see,  then,  that  labour  is  not  the  only 
source  of  material  wealth,  of  use-values  produced  by  labour. 
As  William  Petty  puts  it,  labour  is  its  father  and  the  earth  its 

Let  us  now  pass  from  the  commodity  considered  as  a  use* 
value  to  the  value  of  commodities. 

By  our  assumption,  the  coat  is  worth  twice  as  much  as  the 
linen.  But  this  is  a  mere  quantitative  difference,  which  for  the 
present  does  not  concern  us.  We  bear  in  mind,  however,  that 
if  the  value  of  the  coat  is  double  that  of  10  yds.  of  linen,  20 
yds.  of  linen  must  have  the  same  value  as  one  coat.  So  far 
as  they  are  values,  the  coat  and  the  linen  are  things  of  a  like 
substance,  objective  expressions  of  essentially  identical  labour. 
But  tailoring  and  weaving  are,  qualitatively,  different  kinds  of 
labour.     There  are,  however,  states  of  society  in  which  one  and 

1  Tutti  i  fenomeni  dell'  universo,  sieno  essi  prodotti  della  mano,  dell'  uomo,  ovvero 
delle  universal!  leggi  della  fisica,  non  ci  danno  idea  di  attuale  creazione,  ma 
unicamente  di  una  modificazione  della  materia.  Accostare  e  separare  sono  gli  unici 
elementi  che  l'ingegno  umano  ritrova  analizzando  l'idea  della  riproduzione:  e  tanto  e 
riproduzione  di  valore  (value  in  use,  although  Verri  in  this  passage  of  his  contro- 
versy with  the  Physiocrats  is  not  himself  quite  certain  of  the  kind  of  value  he  is 
speaking  of)  e  di  ricchezze  se  la  terra  l'aria  e  l'acqua  ne'  campi  si  trasmutino  in 
grano,  come  se  colla  mano  dell'  uomo  il  glutine  di  un  insetto  si  trasmuti  in  velluto 
ovvero  alcuni  pezzetti  di  metallo  si  organizzino  a  formare  una  ripetizione." — 
Pietro  Verri.  "Meditazioni  stilla  Economia  Politica"  [first  printed  in  1773] 
in  Custodi's  edition  of  the  Italian  Economists,  Parte  Moderna,  t.  xv.  p.  22. 

Commodities.  51 

the  same  man  does  tailoring  and  weaving  alternately,  in  which 
case  these  two  forms  of  labour  are  mere  modifications  of  the 
labour  of  the  same  individual,  and  not  special  and  fixed  func- 
tions of  different  persons;  just  as  the  coat  which  our  tailor 
makes  one  day,  and  the  trousers  which  he  makes  another  day, 
imply  only  a  variation  in  the  labour  of  one  and  the  same  indi- 
vidual. Moreover,  we  see  at  a  glance  that,  in  our  capitalist 
society,  a  given  portion  of  human  labour  is,  in  accordance  with 
the  varying  demand,  at  one  time  supplied  in  the  form  of  tailor- 
ing, at  another  in  the  form  of  weaving.  This  change  may 
possibly  not  take  place  without  friction,  but  take  place  it  must. 
Productive  activity,  if  we  leave  out  of  sight  its  special  form, 
viz.,  the  useful  character  of  the  labour,  is  nothing  but  the  ex- 
penditure of  human  labour-power.  Tailoring  and  weaving, 
though  qualitatively  different  productive  activities,  are  each  a 
productive  expenditure  of  human  brains,  nerves,  and  muscles, 
and  in  this  sense  are  human  labour.  They  are  but  two 
different  modes  of  expending  human  labour-power.  Of  course, 
this  labour-power,  which  remains  the  same  under  all  its  modi- 
fications, must  have  attained  a  certain  pitch  of  development 
before  it  can  be  expended  in  a  multiplicity  of  modes.  But  the 
value  of  a  commodity  represents  human  labour  in  the  abstract, 
the  expenditure  of  human  labour  in  general.  And  just  as  in 
society,  a  general  or  a  banker  plays  a  great  part,  but  mere 
man,  on  the  other  hand,  a  very  shabby  part,1  so  here  with 
mere  human  labour.  It  is  the  expenditure  of  simple  labour- 
power,  i.e.,  of  the  labour-power  which,  on  an  average,  apart 
from  any  special  development,  exists  in  the  organism  of  every 
ordinary  individual.  Simple  average  labour,  it  is  true,  varies 
in  character  in  different  countries  and  at  different  times,  but 
in  a  particular  society  it  is  given.  Skilled  labour  counts  only 
as  simple  labour  intensified,  or  rather,  as  multiplied  simple 
labour,  a  given  quantity  of  skilled  being  considered  equal  to  a 
greater  quantity  of  simple  labour.  Experience  shows  that  this 
reduction  is  constantly  being  made.  A  commodity  may  be  the 
product  of  the  most  skilled  labour,  but  its  value,  by  equating 
it  to  the  product  of  simple  unskilled  labour,   represents  a 

*Comp.  Hegel,  Philosophic  des  Rechts.     Berlin,   1840,  p.  250  §  190. 

52  Capitalist  Production. 

definite  quantity  of  the  latter  labour  alone.1  The  different 
proportions  in  which  different  sorts  of  labour  are  reduced  to 
unskilled  labour  as  their  standard,  are  established  by  a  social 
process  that  goes  on  behind  the  backs  of  the  producers,  and, 
consequently,  appear  to  be  fixed  by  custom.  For  simplicity's 
sake  we  shall  henceforth  account  every  kind  of  labour  to  be 
unskilled,  simple  labour ;  by  this  we  do  no  more  than  save 
ourselves  the  trouble  of  making  the  reduction. 

Just  as,  therefore,  in  viewing  the  coat  and  linen  as  values, 
we  abstract  from  their  different  use-values,  so  it  is  with  the 
labour  represented  by  those  values :  we  disregard  the  difference 
between  its  useful  forms,  weaving  and  tailoring.  As  the  use- 
values,  coat  and  linen,  are  combinations  of  special  productive 
activities  with  cloth  and  yarn,  while  the  values,  coat  and  linen, 
are,  on  the  other  hand,  mere  homogeneous  congelations  of 
indifferentiated  labour,  so  the  labour  embodied  in  these  latter 
values  does  not  count  by  virtue  of  its  productive  relation  to 
cloth  and  yarn,  but  only  as  being  expenditure  of  human 
labour-power.  Tailoring  and  weaving  are  necessary  factors  in 
the  creation  of  the  use-values,  coat  and  linen,  precisely  because 
these  two  kinds  of  labour  are  of  different  qualities ;  but  only 
in  so  far  as  abstraction  is  made  from  their  special  qualities, 
only  in  so  far  as  both  possess  the  same  quality  of  being  human 
labour,  do  tailoring  and  weaving  form  the  substance  of  the 
values  of  the  same  articles. 

Coats  and  linen,  however,  are  not  merely  values,  but  values 
of  definite  magnitude,  and  according  to  our  assumption,  the 
coat  is  worth  twice  as  much  as  the  ten  yards  of  linen.  Whence 
this  difference  in  their  values  ?  It  is  owing  to  the  fact  that 
the  linen  contains  only  half  as  much  labour  as  the  coat, 
and  consequently,  that  in  the  production  of  the  latter,  labour- 
power  must  have  been  expended  during  twice  the  time  neces-- 
sary  for  the  production  of  the  former. 

While,  therefore,  with  reference  to  use-value,  the  labour  con- 
tained in  a  commodity  counts  only  qualitatively,  with  refer- 

1  The  reader  must  note  that  we  are  not  speaking  here  of  the  wages  or  value 
that  the  labourer  gets  for  a  given  labour  time,  but  of  the  value  of  the  com- 
modity in  which  that  labour  time  is  materialised.  Wages  is  a  category  that,  as 
yetf   has  no  existence  at  the  present  stage  of  our  investigation. 

Commodities.  53 

ence  to  value  it  counts  only  quantitatively,  and  must  first  be 
reduced  to  human  labour  pure  and  simple.  In  the  former 
case,  it  is  a  question  of  How  and  What,  in  the  latter  of  How 
much  ?  How  long  a  time  ?  Since  the  magnitude  of  the  value  of 
a  commodity  represents  only  the  quantity  of  labour  embodied 
in  it,  it  follows  that  all  commodities,  when  taken  in  certain 
proportions,  must  be  equal  in  value. 

If  the  productive  power  of  all  the  different  sorts  of  useful 
labour  required  for  the  production  of  a  coat  remains  unchanged, 
the  sum  of  the  values  of  the  coat  produced  increases  with 
their  number.  If  one  coat  represents  x  days'  labour,  two 
coats  represent  2x  days'  labour,  and  so  on.  But  assume  that 
the  duration  of  the  labour  necessary  for  the  production  of  a 
coat  becomes  doubled  or  halved.  In  the  first  case,  one  coat  is 
worth  as  much  as  two  coats  were  before ;  in  the  second  case, 
two  coats  are  only  worth  as  much  as  one  was  before,  although 
in  both  cases  one  coat  renders  the  same  service  as  before,  and 
the  useful  labour  embodied  in  it  remains  of  the  same  quality. 
But  the  quantity  of  labour  spent  on  its  production  has  altered. 

An  increase  in  the  quantity  of  use-values  is  an  increase  of 
material  wealth.  With  two  coats  two  men  can  be  clothed, 
with  one  coat  only  one  man.  Nevertheless,  an  increased  quan- 
tity of  material  wealth  may  correspond  to  a  simultaneous 
fall  in  the  magnitude  of  its  value.  This  antagonistic  move- 
ment has  its  origin  in  the  two-fold  character  of  labour. 
Productive  power  has  reference,  of  course,  only  to  labour  of 
some  useful  concrete  form ;  the  efficacy  of  any  special  produc- 
tive activity  during  a  given  time  being  dependent  on  its 
productiveness.  Useful  labour  becomes,  therefore,  a  more  or 
less  abundant  source  of  products,  in  proportion  to  the  rise  or 
fall  of  its  productiveness.  On  the  other  hand,  no  change  in  this 
productiveness  affects  the  labour  represented  by  value.  Since 
productive  power  is  an  attribute  of  the  concrete  useful  forms 
of  labour,  of  course  it  can  no  longer  have  any  bearing  on  that 
labour,  so  soon  as  we  make  abstraction  from  those  concrete 
useful  forms.  However  then  productive  power  may  vary,  the 
same  labour,  exercised  during  equal  periods  of  time,  always 
yields  equal  amounts  of  value.     But  it  will  yield,  during  equal 

54  Capitalist  Production. 

periods  of  time,  different  quantities  of  values  in  use ;  more,  if 
the  productive  power  rise,  fewer,  if  it  fall.  The  same  change 
in  productive  power,  which  increases  the  fruitfulness  of  labour, 
and,  in  consequence,  the  quantity  of  use-values  produced  by 
that  labour,  will  diminish  the  total  value  of  this  increased 
quantity  of  use-values,  provided  such  change  shorten  the  total 
labour-time  necessary  for  their  production ;  and  vice  versd. 

On  the  one  hand  all  labour  is,  speaking  physiologically,  an 
expenditure  of  human  labour-power,  and  in  its  character  of 
identical  abstract  human  labour,  it  creates  and  forms  the  value 
of  commodities.  On  the  other  hand,  all  labour  is  the  expendi- 
ture of  human  labour-power  in  a  special  form  and  with  a 
definite  aim,  and  in  this,  its  character  of  concrete  useful  labour, 
it  produces  use-values. 1 


Commodities  come  into  the  world  in  the  shape  of  use-values, 
articles,  or  goods,  such  as  iron,  linen,  corn,  &c.  This  is  their 
plain,  homely,  bodily  form.     They  are,  however,  commodities, 

1  In  order  to  prove  that  labour  alone  is  that  all-sufficient  and  real  measure, 
by  which  at  all  times  the  value  of  all  commodities  can  be  estimated  and  com- 
pared, Adam  Smith  says,  "  Equal  quantities  of  labour  must  at  all  times  and  in  all 
places  have  the  same  value  for  the  labourer.  In  his  normal  state  of  health,  strength 
and  activity,  and  with  the  average  degree  of  skill  that  he  may  possess,  he  must 
always  give  up  the  same  portion  of  his  rest,  his  freedom,  and  his  happiness.3' 
(Wealth  of  Nations,  b.  I.  ch.  v.)  On  the  one  hand,  Adam  Smith  here  (but  not 
everywhere)  confuses  the  determination  of  value  by  means  of  the  quantity  of 
labour  expended  in  the  production  of  commodities,  with  the  determination  of  the 
values  of  commodities  by  means  of  the  value  of  labour,  and  seeks  in  consequence 
to  prove  that  equal  quantities  of  labour  have  always  the  same  value.  On  thq 
other  hand,  he  has  a  presentiment,  that  labour,  so  far  as  it  manifests  itself  in 
the  value  of  commodities,  counts  only  as  expenditure  of  labour  power,  but  he 
treats  this  expenditure  as  the  mere  sacrifice  of  rest,  freedom,  and  happiness,  not  as 
the  same  time  the  normal  activity  of  living  beings.  But  then,  he  has  the  mod. 
em  wage-labourer  in  his  eye.  Much  more  aptly,  the  anonymous  predecessor  ol 
Adam  Smith,  quoted  above  in  Note  1,  p.  6,  says,  "  one  man  has  employed  him- 
self a  week  in  providing  this  necessary  of  life  .  .  .  and  he  that  gives  him 
some  other  in  exchange,  cannot  make  a  better  estimate  of  what  is  a  proper 
equivalent,  than  by  computing  what  cost  him  just  as  much  labour  and  time; 
which  in  effect  is  no  more  than  exchanging  one  man's  labour  in  one  thing  for 
a  time  certain,  for  another  man's  labour  in  another  thing  for  the  same  time." 
(1.  c.  p.  39.)  [The  English  language  has  the  advantage  of  possessing  different 
words  for  the  two  aspects  of  labour  here  considered.  The  labour  which  creates 
Use-Value,  and  counts  qualitatively,  is  Work,  as  distinguished  from  Labour;  that 
which  creates  Value  and  counts  quantitatively,  is  Labour  as  distingiushed  fronj 
Work.  —  Ed.] 

Commodities.  55 

only  because  they  are  something  twofold,  both  objects  of  utility, 
and,  at  the  same  time,  depositories  of  value.  They  manifest 
themselves  therefore  as  commodities.,  or  have  the  form  of  com- 
modities, only  in  so  far  as  they  have  two  forms,  a  physical 
or  natural  form,  and  a  value  form. 

The  reality  of  the  value  of  commodities  differs  in  this  respect 
from  Dame  Quickly,  that  we  don't  know  "where  to  have  it." 
The  value  of  commodities  is  the  very  opposite  of  the  coarse  ma- 
teriality of  their  substance,  not  an  atom  of  matter  enters  into  its 
composition.  Turn  and  examine  a  single  commodity,  by  itself, 
as  we  will.  Yet  in  so  far  as  it  remains  an  object  of  value,  it 
seems  impossible  to  grasp  it.  If,  however,  we  bear  in  mind 
that  the  value  of  commodities  has  a  purely  social  reality,  and 
that  they  acquire  this  reality  only  in  so  far  as  they  are  expres- 
sions or  embodiments  of  one  identical  social  substance,  viz.,  hu- 
man labour,  it  follows  as  a  matter  of  course,  that  value  can  only 
manifest  itself  in  the  social  relation  of  commodity  to  com- 
modity. In  fact  we  started  from  exchange  value,  or  the 
exchange  relation  of  commodities,  in  order  to  get  at  the  value 
that  lies  hidden  behind  it.  We  must  now  return  to  this  form 
under  which  value  first  appeared  to  us. 

Every  one  knows,  if  he  knows  nothing  else,  that  commodities 
have  a  value  form  common  to  them  all,  and  presenting  a 
marked  contrast  with  the  varied  bodily  forms  of  their  use- 
values.  I  mean  their  money  form.  Here,  however,  a  task  is 
set  us,  the  performance  of  which  has  never  yet  even  been  at- 
tempted by  bourgeois  economy,  the  task  of  tracing  the  genesis 
of  this  money  form,  of  developing  the  expression  of  value  im- 
plied in  the  value  relation  of  commodities,  from  its  simplest, 
almost  imperceptible  outline,  to  the  dazzling  money  form.  By 
doing  this  we  shall,  at  the  same  time,  solve  the  riddle  presented 
by  money. 

The  simplest  value  relation  is  evidently  that  of  one  com- 
modity to  some  one  other  commodity  of  a  different  kind. 
Hence  the  relation  between  the  values  of  two  commodities  sup- 
plies us  with  the  simplest  expression  of  the  value  of  a  single 

56  Capitalist  Production. 

A.  Elementary  or  Accidental  Form  of  Value. 
x  commodity  A=y  commodity  B,  or 
x  commodity  A  is  worth  y  commodity  B. 

20  yards  of  linen=l  coat,  or 

20  yards  of  linen  are  worth  1  coat. 

1.  The  two  poles  of  the  expression  of  value :  Relative  form  and 
Equivalent  form. 

The  whole  mystery  of  the  form  of  value  lies  hidden  in 
this  elementary  form.  Its  analysis,  therefore,  is  our  real 

Here  two  different  kinds  of  commodities  (in  our  example 
the  linen  and  the  coat),  evidently  play  two  different  parts. 
The  linen  expresses  its  value  in  the  coat ;  the  coat  serves  as  the 
material  in  which  that  value  is  expressed.  The  former  plays 
an  active,  the  latter  a  passive,  part.  The  value  of  the  linen  is 
represented  as  relative  value,  or  appears  in  relative  form. 
The  coat  officiates  as  equivalent,  or  appears  in  equivalent 

The  relative  form  and  the  equivalent  form  are  two  intimate- 
ly connected,  mutually  dependent  and  inseparable  elements  of 
the  expression  of  value ;  but,  at  the  same  time,  are  mutually 
exclusive,  antagonistic  extremes — i.e.,  poles  of  the  same  ex- 
pression. They  are  allotted  respectively  to  the  two  different 
commodities  brought  into  relation  by  that  expression.  It  is 
not  possible  to  express  the  value  of  linen  in  linen.  20  yards 
of  linen =20  yards  of  linen  is  no  expression  of  value.  On  the 
contrary,  such  an  equation  merely  says  that  20  yards  of  linen 
are  nothing  else  than  20  yards  of  linen,  a  definite  quantity  of 
the  use-value  linen.  The  value  of  the  linen  can  therefore  be 
expressed  only  relatively — i.e.,  in  some  other  commodity.  The 
relative  form  of  the  value  of  the  linen  pre-supposes,  therefore, 
the  presence  of  some  other  commodity — here  the  coat — under 
the  form  of  an  equivalent.  On  the  other  hand,  the  commodity 
that  figures  as  the  equivalent  cannot  at  the  same  time  assume 
the  relative  form.  That  second  commodity  is  not  the  one 
whose  value  is  expressed.     Its  function  is  merely  to  serve  as 

Commodities.  57 

the  material  in  which  the  value  of  the  first  commodity  is  ex- 

No  doubt,  the  expression  20  yards  of  linen=l  coat,  or  20 
yards  of  linen  are  worth  1  coat,  implies  the  opposite  relation :  1 
coat=20  yards  of  linen,  or  1  coat  is  worth  20  yards  of  linen. 
But,  in  that  case,  I  must  reverse  the  equation,  in  order  to  ex- 
press the  value  of  the  coat  relatively ;  and,  so  soon  as  I  do 
that  the  linen  becomes  the  equivalent  instead  of  the  coat. 
A  single  commodity  cannot,  therefore,  simultaneously  assume, 
in  the  same  expression  of  value,  both  forms.  The  very 
polarity  of  these  forms  makes  them  mutually  exclusive. 

Whether,  then,  a  commodity  assumes  the  relative  form,  or 
the  opposite  equivalent  form,  depends  entirely  upon  its  acci- 
dental position  in  the  expression  of  value — that  is,  upon 
whether  it  is  the  commodity  whose  value  is  being  expressed  or 
the  commodity  in  which  value  is  being  expressed. 

2.  The  Relative  form  of  value. 
(a.)  The  nature  and  import  of  this  form. 

In  order  to  discover  how  the  elementary  expression  of  the 
value  of  a  commodity  lies  hidden  in  the  value  relation  of  two 
commodities,  we  must,  in  the  first  place,  consider  the  latter 
entirely  apart  from  its  quantitative  aspect.  The  usual  mode  of 
procedure  is  generally  the  reverse,  and  in  the  value  relation 
nothing  is  seen  but  the  proportion  between  definite  quantities 
of  two  different  sorts  of  commodities  that  are  considered  equal 
to  each  other.  It  is  apt  to  be  forgotten  that  the  magnitudes 
of  different  things  can  be  compared  quantitatively,  only  when 
those  magnitudes  are  expressed  in  terms  of  the  same  unit.  It 
is  only  as  expressions  of  such  a  unit  that  they  are  of  the  same 
denomination,  and  therefore  commensurable.1 

Whether   20   yards   of  linen=l   coat  or=20   coats   or=x 

1  The  few  economists,  amongst  whom  is  S.  Bailey,  who  have  occupied  themselves 
with  the  analysis  of  the  form  of  value,  have  been  unable  to  arrive  at  any  result, 
first,  because  they  confuse  the  form  of  value  with  value  itself;  and  second,  be- 
cause, under  the  coarse  influence  of  the  practical  bourgeois,  they  exclusively  give 
their  attention  to  the  quantitative  aspect  of  the  question.  "The  command  of  quan- 
ity  .  .  .  constitutes  value."  ("Money  and  its  Vicissitudes."  London,  1837,  p. 
11.     By   S.    Bailey. 

58  Capitalist  Production. 

coats — that  is,  whether  a  given  quantity  of  linen  is  worth  few 
or  many  coats,  every  such  statement  implies  that  the  linen  and 
coats,  as  magnitudes  of  value,  are  expressions  of  the  same  unit, 
things  of  the  same  kind.  Linen=coat  is  the  basis  of  the 

But  the  two  commodities  whose  identity  of  quality  is  thus 
assumed,  do  not  play  the  same  part.  It  is  only  the  value  of 
the  linen  that  is  expressed.  And  how  ?  By  its  reference  to 
the  coat  as  its  equivalent,  as  something  that  can  be  exchanged 
for  it.  In  this  relation  the  coat  is  the  mode  of  existence  of 
^alue,  is  value  embodied,  for  only  as  such  is  it  the  same  as  the 
linen.  On  the  other  hand,  the  linen's  own  value  comes  to  the 
front,  receives  independent  expression,  for  it  is  only  as  being 
value  that  it  is  comparable  with  the  coat  as  a  thing  of  equal 
value,  or  exchangeable  with  the  coat  To  borrow  an  illustra- 
tion from  chemistry,  butyric  acid  is  a  different  substance  from 
propyl  formate.  Yet  both  are  made  up  of  the  same  chemical 
substances,  carbon  (C),  hydrogen  (H),  and  oxygen  (O),  and 
that,  too,  in  like  proportions — namely,  C4H802.  If  now  we 
equate  butyric  acid  to  propyl  formate,  then,  in  the  first  place, 
propyl  formate  would  be,  in  this  relation,  merely  a  form  oil 
existence  of  C4H802 ;  and  in  the  second  place,  we  should  be 
stating  that  butyric  acid  also  consists  of  C4Ii802.  Therefore, 
by  thus  equating  the  two  substances,  expression  would  be  given 
to  their  chemical  composition,  while  their  different  physical 
forms  would  be  neglected. 

If  we  say  that,  as  values,  commodities  are  mere  congelations 
of  human  labour,  we  reduce  them  by  our  analysis,  it  is  true,  to 
the  abstraction,  value ;  but  we  ascribe  to  this  value  no  form 
apart  from  their  bodily  form.  It  is  otherwise  in  the  value 
relation  of  one  commodity  to-  another.  Here,  the  one  stands 
forth  in  its  character  of  value  by  reason  of  its  relation  to  the 

By  making  the  coat  the  equivalent  of  the  linen,  we  equate 
the  labour  embodied  in  the  former  to  that  in  the  latter.  Now, 
it  is  true  that  the  tailoring,  which  makes  the  coat,  is  concrete 
labour  of  a  different  sort  from  the  weaving  which  makes  the 
linen.     But  the  act  of  equating  it  to  the  weaving,  reduces  the 

Commodities.  59 

tailoring  to  that  which  is  really  equal  in  the  two  kinds  of 
labour,  to  their  common  character  of  human  labour.  In  this 
roundabout  way,  then,  the  fact  is  expressed,  that  weaving  also, 
in  so  far  as  it  weaves  value,  has  nothing  to  distinguish  it  from 
tailoring,  and,  consequently,  is  abstract  human  labour.  It  is 
the  expression  of  equivalence  between  different  sorts  of  com- 
modities that  alone  brings  into  relief  the  specific  character  of 
value-creating  labour,  and  this  it  does  by  actually  reducing 
the  different  varieties  of  labour  embodied  in  the  different 
kinds  of  commodities  to  their  common  quality  of  human  labour 
in  the  abstract.1 

There  is,  however,  something  else  required  beyond  the  ex- 
pression of  the  specific  character  of  the  labour  of  which  the 
value  of  the  linen  consists.  Human  labour-power  in  motion, 
or  human  labour,  creates  value,  but  is  not  itself  value.  It 
becomes  value  only  in  its  congealed  state,  when  embodied  in 
the  form  of  some  object.  In  order  to  express  the  value  of  the 
linen  as  a  congelation  of  human  labour,  that  value  must  be 
expressed  as  having  objective  existence,  as  being  a  something 
materially  different  from  the  linen  itself,  and  yet  a  something 
common  to  the  linen  and  all  other  commodities.  The  problem 
is  already  solved. 

When  occupying  the  position  of  equivalent  in  the  equation 
of  value,  the  coat  ranks  qualitatively  as  the  equal  of  the  linen, 
as  something  of  the  same  kind,  because  it  is  value.  In  this  posi- 
tion it  is  a  thing  in  which  we  see  nothing  but  value,  or  whose 
palpable  bodily  form  represents  value.  Yet  the  coat  itself,  the 
body  of  the  commodity,  coat,  is  a  mere  use-value.  A  coat  as 
such  no  more  tells  us  it  is  value,  than  does  the  first  piece  of 
linen  we  take  hold  of.     This  shows  that  when  placed  in  value 

1  The  celebrated  Franklin,  one  of  the  first  economists,  after  Wm.  Petty,  who 
saw  through  the  nature  of  value,  says:  "Trade  in  general  being  nothing  else  but 
the  exchange  of  labour  for  labour,  the  value  of  all  things  is  .  .  .  most  justly 
measured  by  labour."  (The  works  of  B.  Franklin,  &c,  edited  by  Sparks, 
Boston,  1836,  Vol.  II.,  p.  267.)  Franklin  is  unconscious  that  by  estimating  tho 
value  of  everything  in  labour,  he  makes  abstraction  from  any  difference  in  the 
sorts  of  labour  exchanged,  and  thus  reduces  them  all  to  equal  human  labour. 
But  although  ignorant  of  this,  yet  he  says  it.  He  speaks  first  of  "the  one  labour," 
then  of  "  the  other  labour,"  and  finally  of  "  labour,"  without  further  qualifica- 
tion, as  the  substance  of  the  value  of  everything. 

6o  Capitalist  Production. 

relation  to  the  linen,  the  coat  signifies  more  than  when  out  of 
that  relation,  just  as  many  a  man  strutting  about  in  a  gorgeous 
uniform  counts  for  more  than  when  in  mufti. 

In  the  production  of  the  coat,  human  labour-power,  in  the 
shape  of  tailoring,  must  have  been  actually  expended.  Human 
labour  is  therefore  accumulated  in  it.  In  this  aspect  the  coat 
is  a  depository  of  value,  but  though  worn  to  a  thread,  it  does 
not  let  this  fact  show  through.  And  as  equivalent  of  the  linen 
in  the  value  equation,  it  exists  under  this  aspect  alone,  counts 
therefore  as  embodied  value,  as  a  body  that  is  value.  A,  for 
instance,  cannot  be  "your  majesty"  to  B,  unless  at  the  same 
time  majesty  in  B's  eyes  assumes  the  bodily  form  of  A,  and, 
what  is  more,  with  every  new  father  of  the  people,  changes  its 
features,  hair,  and  many  other  things  besides. 

Hence,  in  the  value  equation,  in  which  the  coat  is  the  equiva- 
lent of  the  linen,  the  coat  officiates  as  the  form  of  value.  The 
value  of  the  commodity  linen  is  expressed  by  the  bodily  form  of 
the  commodity  coat,  the  value  of  one  by  the  use-value  of  the 
other.  As  a  use-value,  the  linen  is  something  palpably  dif- 
ferent from  the  coat ;  as  value,  it  is  the  same  as  the  coat,  and 
now  has  the  appearance  of  a  coat.  Thus  the  linen  acquires 
a  value  form  different  from  its  physical  form.  The  fact  that 
it  is  value,  is  made  manifest  by  its  equality  with  the  coat,  just 
as  the  sheep's  nature  of  a  Christian  is  shown  in  his  resemblance 
to  the  Lamb  of  God. 

We  see,  then,  all  that  our  analysis  of  the  value  of  commo- 
dities has  already  told  us,  is  told  us  by  the  linen  itself,  so  soon 
as  it  comes  into  communication  with  another  commodity,  the 
coat.  Only  it  betrays  its  thoughts  in  that  language  with 
which  alone  it  is  familiar,  the  language  of  commodities.  In 
order  to  tell  us  that  its  own  value  is  created  by  labour  in  its 
abstract  character  of  human  labour,  it  says  that  the  coat,  in  so 
far  as  it  is  worth  as  much  as  the  linen,  and  therefore  is  value, 
consists  of  the  same  labour  as  the  linen.  In  order  to  inform 
us  that  its  sublime  reality  as  value  is  not  the  same  as  its  buck- 
ram body,  it  says  that  value  has  the  appearance  of  a  coat,  and 
consequently  that  so  far  as  the  linen  is  value,  it  and  the  coat 
are  as  like  as  two  peas.     We  may  here  remark,  that  the  Ian- 

Commodities.  61 

guage  of  commodities  has,  besides  Hebrew,  many  other  more  or 
less  correct  dialects.  The  German  "werthsein,"  to  be  worth, 
for  instance,  expresses  in  a  less  striking  manner  than  the 
Romance  verbs  "valere,"  "valer,"  "valoir,"  that  the  equating  of 
commodity  B  to  commodity  A,  is  commodity  A's  own  mode  of 
expressing  its  value.     Paris  vaut  bien  une  messe. 

By  means,  therefore,  of  the  value  relation  expressed  in  our 
equation,  the  bodily  form  of  commodity  B  becomes  the  value 
form  of  commodity  A,  or  the  body  of  commodity  B  acts  as  a 
mirror  to  the  value  of  commodity  A.1  By  putting  itself  in  re- 
lation with  commodity  B,  as  value  in  propria  persona,  as  the 
matter  of  which  human  labour  is  made  up,  the  commodity  A 
converts  the  value  in  use,  B,  into  the  substance  in  which  to 
express  its,  A's,  own  value.  The  value  of  A,  thus  expressed  in 
the  use-value  of  B,  has  taken  the  form  of  relative  value. 

(b.)    Quantitative  determination  of  Relative  value. 

Every  commodity,  whose  value  it  is  intended  to  express,  is  a 
useful  object  of  given  quantity,  as  15  bushels  of  corn,  or  100 
lbs.  of  coffee.  And  a  given  quantity  of  any  commodity  con- 
tains a  definite  quantity  of  human  labor.  The  value-form 
must  therefore  not  only  express  value  generally,  but  also  value 
in  definite  quantity.  Therefore,  in  the  value  relation  of  com- 
modity A  to  commodity  B,  of  the  linen  to  the  coat,  not  only  is 
the  latter,  as  value  in  general,  made  the  equal  in  quality  of  the 
linen,  but  a  definite  quantity  of  coat  (1  coat)  is  made  the 
equivalent  of  a  definite  quantity  (20  yards)  of  linen. 

The  equation,  20  yards  of  linen=l  coat,  or  20  yards  of  linen 
are  worth  one  coat,  implies  that  the  same  quality  of  value- 
substance  (congealed  labour)  is  embodied  in  both;  that  the 
two  commodities  have  each  cost  the  same  amount  of  labour  or 
the  same  quantity  of  labour  time.  But  the  labour  time 
necessary  for  the  production  of  20  yards  of  linen  or  1  coat 

1  In  a  sort  of  way,  it  is  with  man  as  with  commodities.  Since  he  comes  into 
the  world  neither  with  a  looking  glass  in  his  hand,  nor  as  a  Fichtian  philosopher, 
to  whom  "  I  am  I  "  is  sufficient,  man  first  sees  and  recognises  himself  in  other 
men.  Peter  only  establishes  his  own  identity  as  a  man  by  first  comparing  him- 
self with  Paul  as  being  of  like  kind.  And  thereby  Paul,  just  as  he  stands  in  hia 
Pauline   personality,   becomes   to    Peter   the  type   of   the   genus   homo. 

62  Capitalist  Production. 

varies  with  every  change  in  the  productiveness  of  weaving  or 
tailoring.  We  have  now  to  consider  the  influence  of  such 
changes  on  the  quantitative  aspect  of  the  relative  expression  of 

I.  Let  the  value  of  the  linen  vary,1  that  of  the  coat  remain- 
ing constant.  If,  say  in  consequence  of  the  exhaustion  of  flax- 
growing  soil,  the  labour  time  necessary  for  the  production  of 
the  linen  he  doubled,  the  value  of  the  linen  will  also  be  doubled. 
Instead  of  the  equation,  20  yards  of  linen=l  coat,  we  should 
have  20  yards  of  linen=2  coats,  since  1  coat  would  now  con- 
tain only  half  the  labour  time  embodied  in  20  yards  of  linen. 
If,  on  the  other  hand,  in  consequence,  say,  of  improved  looms, 
this  labour  time  be  reduced  by  one  half,  the  value  of  the  linen 
would  fall  by  one  half.  Consequently,  we  should  have  20 
yards  of  linen=-|  coat.  The  relative  value  of  commodity  A, 
i.e.,  its  value  expressed  in  commodity  B,  rises  and  falls  directly 
as  the  value  of  A,  the  value  of  B  being  supposed  constant. 

II.  Let  the  value  of  the  linen  remain  constant,  while  the 
value  of  the  coat  varies.  If,  under  these  circumstances,  in 
consequence,  for  instance,  of  a  poor  crop  of  wool,  the  labour 
time  necessary  for  the  production  of  a  coat  becomes  doubled, 
we  have  instead  of  20  yards  of  linen=l  coat,  20  yards  of  lmen 
=4  coat.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  the  value  of  the  coat  sinks 
by  one  half,  then  20  yards  of  linen=2  coats.  Hence,  if  the 
value  of  commodity  A  remain  constant,  its  relative  value  ex- 
pressed in  commodity  B  rises  and  falls  inversely  as  the  value 
of  B. 

If  we  compare  the  different  cases  in  I.  and  II.,  we  see  that 
the  same  change  of  magnitude  in  relative  value  may  arise  from 
totally  opposite  causes.  Thus,  the  equation,  20  yards  of  linen 
—1  coat,  becomes  20  yards  of  linen=2  coats,  either,  because, 
the  value  of  the  linen  has  doubled,  or  because  the  value  of  the 
coat  has  fallen  by  one  half;  and  it  becomes  20  yards  of  linen 
==4  coat,  either,  because  the  value  of  the  linen  has  fallen  by 
one  half,  or  because  the  value  of  the  coat  has  doubled. 

III.  Let  the  quantities  of  labour  time  respectively  neces- 

1  Value  is  here,  as  occasionally  in  the  preceding  pages,  used  in  the  sense  of 
value    determined    as    to    quantity,    or    of    magnitude    of    value. 

Commodities.  63 

sary  for  the  production  of  the  linen  and  the  coat  vary  sim- 
ultaneously in  the  same  direction  and  in  the  same  proportion. 
In  this  case  20  yards  of  linen  continue  equal  to  1  coat,  however 
much  their  values  may  have  altered.  Their  change  of  value  is 
seen  as  soon  as  they  are  compared  with  a  third  commodity, 
whose  value  has  remained  constant.  If  the  values  of  all  com- 
modities rose  or  fell  simultaneously,  and  in  the  same  propor- 
tion, their  relative  values  would  remain  unaltered.  Their  real 
change  of  value  would  appear  from  the  diminished  or  increased 
quantity  of  commodities  produced  in  a  given  time. 

IV.  The  labour  time  respectively  necessary  for  the  produc- 
tion of  the  linen  and  the  coat,  and  therefore  the  value  of  these 
commodities  may  simultaneously  vary  in  the  same  direction, 
but  at  unequal  rates,  or  in  opposite  directions,  or  in  other 
ways.  The  effect  of  all  these  possible  different  variations,  on 
the  relative  value  of  a  commodity,  may  be  deduced  from  the 
results  of  I.,  II.,  and  III. 

Thus  real  changes  in  the  magnitude  of  value  are  neither 
unequivocally  nor  exhaustively  reflected  in  their  relative 
expression,  that  is,  in  the  equation  expressing  the  magnitude 
of  relative  value.  The  relative  value  of  a  commodity  may 
vary,  although  its  value  remains  constant.  Its  relative  value 
may  remain  constant,  although  its  value  varies ;  and  finally, 
simultaneous  variations  in  the  magnitude  of  value  and  in  that 
of  its  relative  expression  by  no  means  necessarily  correspond 
in  amount.1 

1  This  incongruity  between  the  magnitude  of  value  and  its  relative  expression 
has,  with  customary  ingenuity,  been  exploited  by  vulgar  economists.  For  example 
— "Once  admit  that  A  falls,  because  B,  with  which  it  is  exchanged,  rises,  while 
no  less  labour  is  bestowed  in  the  meantime  on  A,  and  your  general  principle  of 
value  falls  to  the  ground.  .  .  .  If  he  [Ricardo]  allowed  that  when  A  rises  in 
value  relatively  to  B,  B  falls  in  value  relatively  to  A,  he  cut  away  the  ground  on 
which  he  rested  his  grand  proposition,  that  the  value  of  a  commodity  is  ever  de- 
termined by  the  labour  embodied  in  it;  for  if  a  change  in  the  cost  of  A  alters  not 
only  its  own  value  in  relation  to  B,  for  which  it  is  exchanged,  but  also  the  value 
of  B  relatively  to  that  of  A,  though  no  change  has  taken  place  in  the  quantity 
of  labour  to  produce  B,  then  not  only  the  doctrine  falls  to  the  ground  which 
asserts  that  the  quantity  of  labour  bestowed  on  an  article  regulates  its  value, 
but  also  that  which  affirms  the  cost  of  an  article  to  regulate  its  value."  (J. 
Broadhurst:    Political    Economy,   London,   1842,  p.   11   and   14. 

Mr.  Broadhurst  might  just  as  well  say:  consider  the  fractions  ig,  £fl,  jLfo,  &c, 
khe  number   10  remains  unchanged,   and  yet  its  proportional  magnitude,   its  magni- 

64  Capitalist  Production. 

3.  The  Equivalent  form  of  value. 

We  have  seen  that  commodity  A  (the  linen),  by  expressing 
its  value  in  the  use-value  of  a  commodity  differing  in  kind 
(the  coat),  at  the  same  time  impresses  upon  the  latter  a  specific 
form  of  value,  namely  that  of  the  equivalent.  The  commodity 
linen  manifests  its  quality  of  having  a  value  by  the  fact  that 
the  coat,  without  having  assumed  a  value  form  different  from 
its  bodily  form,  is  equated  to  the  linen.  The  fact  that  the 
latter  therefore  has  a  value  is  expressed  by  saying  that  the 
coat  is  directly  exchangeable  "with  it.  Therefore,  when  we  say 
that  a  commodity  is  in  the  equivalent  form,  we  express  the 
fact  that  it  is  directly  exchangeable  with  other  commodities. 

When  one  commodity,  such  as  a  coal;,  serves  as  the  equivalent 
of  another,  such  as  linen,  and  coats  consequently  acquire  the 
characteristic  property  of  being  directly  exchangeable  with 
linen,  we  are  far  from  knowing  in  what  proportion  the  two  are 
exchangeable.  The  value  of  the  linen  being  given  in  magni- 
tude, that  proportion  depends  on  the  value  of  the  coat. 
Whether  the  coat  serves  as  the  equivalent  and  the  linen  as 
relative  value,  or  the  linen  as  the  equivalent  and  the  coat  as 
relative  value,  the  magnitude  of  the  coat's  value  is  determined, 
independently  of  its  value  form,  by  the  labour  time  necessary 
for  its  production.  But  whenever  the  coat  assumes  in  the 
equation  of  value,  the  position  of  equivalent,  its  value  acquires 
no  quantitative  expression ;  on  the  contrary,  the  commodity 
coat  now  figures  only  as  a  definite  quantity  of  some  article. 

For  instance,  40  yards  of  linen  are  worth — what?  2  coats. 
Because  the  commodity  coat  here  plays  the  part  of  equivalent, 
because  the  use-value  coat,  as  opposed  to  the  linen,  figures  as 
an  embodiment  of  value,  therefore  a  definite  number  of  coats 
suffices  to  express  the  definite  quantity  of  value  in  the  linen. 
Two  coats  may  therefore  express  the  quantity  of  value  of  40 
yards  of  linen,  but  they  can  never  express  the  quantity  of  their 
own  value.     A  superficial  observation  of  this  fact,  namely,  that 

tude  relatively  to  the  numbers  20,  50,  100,  &c,  continually  diminishes.  There- 
fore the  great  principle  that  the  magnitude  of  a  whole  number,  such  as  10,  is 
"regulated"  by  the  number  of  times  unity  is  contained  in  it,  falls  to  the  ground. 
—  [The  author  explains  in  section  4  of  this  chapter,  p.  93,  note  1,  what  he  under- 
stands   by    "  Vulgar    Economy."  —  Ed.] 

Commodities.  65 

in  the  equation  of  value,  the  equivalent  figures  exclusively  as 
a  simple  quantity  of  some  article,  of  some  use-value,  has  misled 
Bailey,  as  also  many  others,  both  before  and  after  him,  into 
seeing,  in  the  expression  of  value,  merely  a  quantitative  rela- 
tion. The  truth  being,  that  when  a  commodity  acts  as  equiva- 
lent, no  quantitative  determination  of  its  value  is  expressed. 

The  first  peculiarity  that  strikes  us,  in  considering  the  form 
of  the  equivalent,  is  this :  use-value  becomes  the  form  of  mani- 
festation, the  phenomenal  form  of  its  opposite,  value. 

The  bodily  form  of  the  commodity  becomes  its  value  form. 
But,  mark  well,  that  this  quid  pro  quo  exists  in  the  case  of  any 
commodity  B,  only  when  some  other  commodity  A  enters  into 
a  value  relation  with  it;  and  then  only  within  the  limits  of  this 
relation.  Since  no  commodity  can  stand  in  the  relation  of 
equivalent  to  itself,  and  thus  turn  its  own  bodily  shape  into  the 
expression  of  its  own  value,  every  commodity  is  compelled 
to  choose  some  other  commodity  for  its  equivalent,  and  to  ac- 
cept the  use-value,  that  is  to  say,  the  bodily  shape  of  that  other 
commodity  as  the  form  of  its  own  value. 

One  of  the  measures  that  we  apply  to  commodities  as  ma- 
terial substances,  as  use-values,  will  serve  to  illustrate  this  point. 
A  sugar-loaf  being  a  body,  is  heavy,  and  therefore  has  weight: 
but  we  can  neither  see  nor  touch  this  weight.  We  then  take 
various  pieces  of  iron,  whose  weight  has  been  determined 
beforehand.  The  iron,  as  iron,  is  no  more  the  form  of  manifes- 
tation of  weight,  than  is  the  sugar-loaf.  Nevertheless,  in  order 
to  express  the  sugar-loaf  as  so  much  weight,  we  put  it  into  a 
weight-relation  with  the  iron.  In  this  relation,  the  iron 
officiates  as  a  body  representing  nothing  but  weight.  A  certain 
quantity  of  iron  therefore  serves  as  the  measure  of  the  weight 
of  the  sugar,  and  represents,  in  relation  to  the  sugar-loaf, 
weight  embodied,  the  form  of  manifestation  of  weight.  This 
part  is  played  by  the  iron  only  within  this  relation,  into  which 
the  sugar  or  any  other  body,  whose  weight  has  to  be  determined, 
enters  with  the  iron.  Were  they  not  both  heavy,  they  could 
not  enter  into  this  relation,  and  the  one  could  therefore  not 
serve  as  the  expression  of  the  weight  of  the  other.  When  we 
throw  both  into  the  scales,  we  see  in  reality,  that  as  weight 

66  Capitalist  Production. 

they  are  both,  the  same,  and  that,  therefore,  when  taken  in 
proper  proportions,  they  have  the  same  weight.  Just  as  the 
substance  iron,  as  a  measure  of  weight,  represents  in  relation 
to  the  sugar-loaf  weight  alone,  so,  in  our  expression  of  value, 
the  material  object,  coat,  in  relation  to  the  linen,  represents 
value  alone. 

Here,  however,  the  analogy  ceases.  The  iron,  in  the  expres- 
sion of  the  weight  of  the  sugar-loaf,  represents  a  natural  pro- 
perty common  to  both  bodies,  namely  their  weight ;  but  the  coat 
in  the  expression  of  value  of  the  linen,  represents  a  non-natural 
property  of  both,  something  purely  social,  namely,  their  value. 

Since  the  relative  form  of  value  of  a  commodity — the  linen, 
for  example — expresses  the  value  of  that  commodity,  as  being 
something  wholly  different  from  its  substance  and  properties, 
as  being,  for  instance,  coat-like,  we  see  that  this  expression 
itself  indicates  that  some  social  relation  lies  at  the  bottom  of 
it.  With  the  equivalent  form  it  is  just  the  contrary.  The  very 
essence  of  this  form  is  that  the  material  commodity  itself — the 
coat — just  as  it  is,  expresses  value,  and  is  endowed  with  the 
form  of  value  by  Nature  itself.  Of  course  this  holds  good  only 
so  long  as  the  value  relation  exists,  in  which  the  coat  stands  in 
the  position  of  equivalent  to  the  linen.1  Since,  however,  the 
properties  of  a  thing  are  not  the  result  of  its  relations  to  other 
things,  but  only  manifest  themselves  in  such  relations,  the 
coat  seems  to  be  endowed  with  its  equivalent  form,  its  property 
of  being  directly  exchangeable,  just  as  much  by  Nature  as  it  is 
endowed  with  the  property  of  being  heavy,  or  the  capacity  to 
keep  us  warm.  Hence  the  enigmatical  character  of  the  equiva- 
lent form  which  escapes  the  notice  of  the  bourgeois  political 
economist,  until  this  form,  completely  developed,  confronts  him 
in  the  shape  of  money.  He  then  seeks  to  explain  away  the 
mystical  character  of  gold  and  silver,  by  substituting  for  them 
less  dazzling  commodities,  and  by  reciting,  with  ever  renewed 
satisfaction,  the  catalogue  of  all  possible  commodities  which  at 
one  time  or  another  have  played  the  part  of  equivalent.     He 

1  Such  expressions  of  relations  in  general,  called  by  Hegel  reflex-categories,  form. 
•  very  curious  class.  For  instance,  one  man  is  king  only  because  other  men  stand 
in  the  relation  of  subjects  to  him.  They,  on  the  contrary,  imagine  that  they  arc 
subjects    because    he    is    king. 

Commodities.  67 

has  not  the  least  suspicion  that  the  most  simple  expression  of 
value,  such  as  20  yds.  of  linen=l  coat,  already  propounds  the 
riddle  of  the  equivalent  form  for  our  solution. 

The  body  of  the  commodity  that  serves  as  the  equivalent, 
figures  as  the  materialization  of  human  labour  in  the  abstract 
and  is  at  the  same  time  the  product  of  some  specifically  useful 
concrete  labour.  This  concrete  labour  becomes,  therefore,  the 
medium  for  expressing  abstract  human  labour.  If  on  the 
one  hand  the  coat  ranks  as  nothing  but  the  embodiment  of 
abstract  human  labour,  so,  on  the  other  hand,  the  tailoring 
which  is  actually  embodied  in  it,  counts  as  nothing  but  the 
form  under  which  that  abstract  labour  is  realised.  In  the  ex- 
pression of  value  of  the  linen,  the  utility  of  the  tailoring  con- 
sists, not  in  making  clothes,  but  in  making  an  object,  which  we 
at  once  recognise  to  be  Value,  and  therefore  to  be  a  congelation 
of  labour,  but  of  labour  indistinguishable  from  that  realised  in 
the  value  of  the  linen.  In  order  to  act  as  such  a  mirror  of 
value,  the  labour  of  tailoring  must  reflect  nothing  besides  its 
own  abstract  quality  of  being  human  labour  generally. 

In  tailoring,  as  well  as  in  weaving,  human  labour-power  is 
expended.  Both,  therefore,  possess  the  general  property  of 
being  human  labour,  and  may,  therefore,  in  certain  cases,  such 
as  in  the  production  of  value,  have  to  be  considered  under 
this  aspect  alone.  There  is  nothing  mysterious  in  this.  But 
in  the  expression  of  value  there  is  a  complete  turn  of  the 
tables.  For  instance,  how  is  the  fact  to  be  expressed  that 
weaving  creates  the  value  of  the  linen,  not  by  virtue  of  being 
weaving,  as  such,  but  by  reason  of  its  general  property  of  being 
human  labour  ?  Simply  by  opposing  to  weaving  that  other 
particular  form  of  concrete  labour  (in  this  instance  tailoring), 
which  produces  the  equivalent  of  the  product  of  weaving. 
Just  as  the  coat  in  its  bodily  form  became  a  direct  expression 
of  value,  so  now  does  tailoring,  a  concrete  form  of  labour, 
appear  as  the  direct  and  palpable  embodiment  of  human  labour 

Hence,  the  second  peculiarity  of  the  equivalent  form  is,  that 
concrete  labour  becomes  the  form  under  which  its  opposite, 
abstract  human  labour,  manifests  itself. 

68  Capitalist  Production. 

But  because  this  concrete  labour,  tailoring  in  our  case,  ranks 
as,  and  is  directly  indentified  with,  undifferentiated  human 
labour,  it  also  ranks  as  identical  with  any  other  sort  of  labor, 
and  therefore  with  that  embodied  in  linen.  Consequently, 
although,  like  all  other  commodity-producing  labour,  it  is  the 
labour  of  private  individuals,  yet,  at  the  same  time,  it  ranks  as 
labour  directly  social  in  its  character.  This  is  the  reason  why 
it  results  in  a  product  directly  exchangeable  with  other  com- 
modities. We  have  then  a  third  peculiarity  of  the  Equivalent 
form,  namely,  that  the  labour  of  private  individuals  takes  the 
form  of  its  opposite,  labour  directly  social  in  its  form. 

The  two  latter  peculiarities  of  the  Equivalent  form  will 
become  more  intelligible  if  we  go  back  to  the  great  thinker 
who  was  the  first  to  analyse  so  many  forms,  whether  of 
thought,  society,  or  nature,  and  amongst  them  also  the  form  of 
value.     I  mean  Aristotle. 

In  the  first  place,  he  clearly  enunciates  that  the  money  form 
of  commodities  is  only  the  further  development  of  the  simple 
form  of  value — i.  ev  of  the  expression  of  the  value  of  one  com- 
modity in  some  other  commodity  taken  at  random ;  for  he  says 
5    beds=l    house    (kXlvcu  ttcvtc  ami  otKtas)    is    not    to    be 

distinguished  from 
5  beds=so  much  money. 

(i<\ivai,  irevTC  dvrl   .    .    .   octov  at  Treure  /cA/vai) 

He  further  sees  that  the  value  relation  which  gives  rise  to 
this  expression  makes  it  necessary  that  the  house  should  quali- 
tatively be  made  the  equal  of  the  bed,  and  that,  without  such 
an  equalization,  these  two  clearly  different  things  could  not 
be  compared  with  each  other  as  commensurable  quantities. 
"Exchange,"  he  says,  "cannot  take  place  without  equality,  and 
equality  not  without  commensurability"  (  ovt  tVoV^s  (jy  ova~r]<s 
<rvfxixcTpcas).  Here,  however,  he  comes  to  a  stop,  and  gives 
up  the  further  analysis  of  the  form  of  value.  "It  is, 
however,  in  reality,  impossible'  (jy  f*.ev  ovv  aXrjOeia  a.Svvarov')  ^  that 
such  unlike  things  can  be  commensurable" — i.  e.,  qualita- 
tively equal.  Such  an  equalisation  can  only  be  something 
foreign  to  their  real  nature,  consequently  only  "a  make-shift 
for  practical  purposes." 

Commodities.  69 

Aristotle  therefore,  himself,  tells  us,  what  barred  the  way  to 
his  further  analysis;  it  was  the  absence  of  any  concept  of 
value.  What  is  that  equal  something,  that  common  substance, 
which  admits  of  the  value  of  the  beds  being  expressed  by  a 
house  ?  Such  a  thing,  in  truth,  cannot  exist,  says  Aristotle. 
And  why  not  ?  Compared  with  the  beds,  the  house  does  re- 
present something  equal  to  them,  in  so  far  as  it  represents  what 
is  really  equal,  both  in  the  beds  and  the  house.  And  that  is — ■ 
human  labour. 

There  was,  however,  an  important  fact  which  prevented 
Aristotle  from  seeing  that,  to  attribute  value  to  commodities,  is 
merely  a  mode  of  expressing  all  labour  as  equal  human  labour, 
and  consequently  as  labour  of  equal  quality.  Greek  society 
was  founded  upon  slavery,  and  had,  therefore,  for  its  natural 
basis,  the  inequality  of  men  and  of  their  labour  powers.  The 
secret  of  the  expression  of  value,  namely,  that  all  kinds  of 
labour  are  equal  and  equivalent,  because,  and  so  far  as  they 
are  human  labour  in  general,  cannot  be  deciphered,  until  the 
notion  of  human  equality  has  already  acquired  the  fixity  of  a 
popular  prejudice.  This,  however,  is  possible  only  in  a  society 
in  which  the  great  mass  of  the  produce  of  labour  takes  the  form 
of  commodities,  in  which,  consequently,  the  dominant  relation 
between  man  and  man,  is  that  of  owners  of  commodities.  The 
brilliancy  of  Aristotle's  genius  is  shown  by  this  alone,  that  he 
discovered,  in  the  expression  of  the  value  of  commodities,  a 
relation  of  equality.  The  peculiar  conditions  of  the  society  in 
which  he  lived,  alone  prevented  him  from  discovering  what, 
"in  truth,"  was  at  the  bottom  of  this  equality. 

4.  The  Elementary  form  of  value  considered  as  a  whole. 

The  elementary  form  of  value  of  a  commodity  is  contained 
in  the  equation,  expressing  its  value  relation  to  another  com- 
modity of  a  different  kind,  or  in  its  exchange  relation  to  the 
same.  The  value  of  commodity  A  is  qualitatively  expressed 
by  the  fact  that  commodity  B  is  directly  exchangeable  with  it. 
Its  value  is  quantitively  expressed  by  the  fact,  that  a  definite 
quantity  of  B  is  exchangeable  with  a  definite  quantity  of  A. 
In  other  words,  the  value  of  a  commodity  obtains  independent 

jo  Capitalist  Production. 

and  definite  expression,  by  taking  the  form  of  exchange  value. 
When,  at  the  beginning  of  this  chapter,  we  said,  in  common 
parlance,  that  a  commodity  is  both  a  use-value  and  an  ex- 
change value,  we  were,  accurately  speaking,  wrong.  A  com- 
modity is  a  use-value  or  object  of  utility,  and  a  value.  It 
manifests  itself  as  this  two-fold  thing,  that  it  is,  as  soon  as  its 
value  assumes  an  independent  form — viz.,  the  form  exchange 
value.  It  never  assumes  this  form  when  isolated,  but  only 
when  placed  in  a  value  or  exchange  relation  with  another 
commodity  of  a  different  kind.  When  once  we  know  this, 
such  a  mode  of  expression  does  no  harm ;  it  simply  serves  as  an 

Our  analysis  has  shown,  that  the  form  or  expression  of  the 
value  of  a  commodity  originates  in  the  nature  of  value,  and 
not  that  value  and  its  magnitude  originate  in  the  mode  of 
their  expression  as  exchange  value.  This,  however,  is  the 
delusion  as  well  of  the  mercantilists  and  their  recent  revivors, 
Ferrier,  Ganilh,1  and  others,  as  also  of  their  antipodes,  the 
modern  bagmen  of  Free  Trade,  such  as  Bastiat.  The  mercan- 
tilists lay  special  stress  on  the  qualitative  aspect  of  the 
expression  of  value,  and  consequently  on  the  equivalent  form 
of  commodities,  which  attains  its  full  perfection  in  money. 
The  modern  hawkers  of  Free  Trade,  who  must  get  rid  of  their 
article  at  any  price,  on  the  other  hand,  lay  most  stress  on  the 
quantitative  aspect  of  the  relative  form  of  value.  For  them 
there  consequently  exists  neither  value,  nor  magnitude  of 
value,  anywhere  except  in  its  expression  by  means  of  the 
exchange  relation  of  commodities,  that  is,  in  the  daily  list  of 
prices  current.  MacLeod,  who  has  taken  upon  himself  to 
dress  up  the  confused  ideas  of  Lombard  Street  in  the  most 
learned  finery,  is  a  successful  cross  between  the  superstitious 
mercantilists,  and  the  enlightened  Free  Trade  bagmen. 

A  close  scrutiny  of  the  expression  of  the  value  of  A  in  terms 
of  B,  contained  in  the  equation  expressing  the  value  relation  of 
A  to  B,  has  shown  us  that,  within  that  relation,  the  bodily  form 

1 F.  L.  Ferrier,  sous-inspecteur  des  douanes,  "Du  gouvernement  considere 
dans  ses  rapports  avec  le  commerce,"  Paris,  1805;  and  Charles  Ganilh,  "Des 
Systemes  d'Economie  politique,"  2nd  ed.,  Paris,  1821. 

Commodities.  yi 

of  A  figures  only  as  a  use-value,  the  bodily  form  of  B  only  as 
the  form  or  aspect  of  value.  The  opposition  or  contrast 
existing  internally  in  each  commodity  between  use-value  and 
value,  is,  therefore,  made  evident  externally  by  two  com- 
modities being  placed  in  such  relation  to  each  other,  that  the 
commodity  whose  value  it  is  sought  to  express,  figures  directly 
as  a  mere  use-value,  while  the  commodity  in  which  that  value 
is  to  be  expressed,  figures  directly  as  mere  exchange  value. 
Hence  the  elementary  form  of  value  of  a  commodity  is  the 
elementary  form  in  which  the  contrast  contained  in  that 
commodity,  between  use-value  and  value,  becomes  apparent. 

Every  product  of  labour  is,  in  all  states  of  society,  a  use- 
value  ;  but  it  is  only  at  a  definite  historical  epoch  in  a  society's 
development  that  such  product  becomes  a  commodity,  viz., 
at  the  epoch  when  the  labour  spent  on  the  production  of  a 
useful  article  becomes  expressed  as  one  of  the  objective 
qualities  of  that  article,  i.e.,  as  its  value.  It  therefore  follows 
that  the  elementary  value-form  is  also  the  primitive  form 
under  which  a  product  of  labour  appears  historically  as  a 
commodity,  and  that  the  gradual  transformation  of  such 
products  into  commodities,  proceeds  pari  passu  with  the 
development  of  the  value-form. 

We  perceive,  at  first  sight,  the  deficiencies  of  the  elementary 
form  of  value :  it  is  a  mere  germ,  which  must  undergo  a  series 
of  metamorphoses  before  it  can  ripen  into  the  Price-form. 

The  expression  of  the  value  of  commodity  A  in  terms  of  any 
other  commodity  B,  merely  distinguishes  the  value  from  the 
use-value  of  A,  and  therefore  places  A  merely  in  a  relation  of 
exchange  with  a  single  different  commodity,  B;  but  it  is  still 
far  from  expressing  A's  qualitative  equality,  and  quantitative 
proportionality,  to  all  commodities.  To  the  elementary  rela- 
tive value-form  of  a  commodity,  there  corresponds  the  single 
equivalent  form  of  one  other  commodity.  Thus,  in  the  rela- 
tive expression  of  value  of  the  linen,  the  coat  assumes  the  form 
of  equivalent,  or  of  being  directly  exchangeable,  only  in  r&- 
lation  to  a  single  commodity,  the  linen*. 

Nevertheless,  the  elementary  form  of  value  passes  by  an  easy 
transition  into  a  more  complete  form.     It  is  true  that  by  means 

72  Capitalist  Production. 

of  the  elementary  form,  the  value  of  a  commodity  A,  becomes 
expressed  in  terms  of  one,  and  only  one,  other  commodity. 
But  that  one  may  be  a  commodity  of  any  kind,  coat,  iron,  corn, 
or  anything  else.  Therefore,  according  as  A  is  placed  in  rela- 
tion with  one  or  the  other,  we  get  for  one  and  the  same  com- 
modity, different  elementary  expressions  of  value.1  The  num- 
ber of  such  possible  expressions  is  limited  only  by  the  number 
of  the  different  kinds  of  commodities  distinct  from  it.  The 
isolated  expression  of  A's  value,  is  therefore  convertible  into  a 
series,  prolonged  to  any  length,  of  the  different  elementary  ex- 
pressions of  that  value. 

B.  Total  or  Expanded  form  of  value. 

z  Com.  A=u  Com.  B  or=v  Com.  C  or=w  Com.  D  or=x  Com. 

E.  or=&c. 

(20  yards  of  linen=l  coat  or=10  lb  tea  or=40  lb  coffee  or= 

1  quarter  corn  or =2  ounces  gold  or=i/2  ton  iron  or=&c.) 

1.  The  Expanded  Relative  form  of  value. 

The  value  of  a  single  commodity,  the  linen,  for  example,  is 
now  expressed  in  terms  of  numberless  other  elements  of  the 
world  of  commodities.  Every  other  commodity  now  becomes 
a  mirror  of  the  linen's  value.2     It  is  thus,  that  for  the  first  time 

1  In  Homer,  for  instance,  the  value  of  an  article  is  expressed  in  a  series  of  dif- 
ferent  things.     II.    VII.,    472-475. 

2  For  this  reason,  we  can  speak  of  the  coat-value  of  the  linen  when  its  value  is 
expressed  in  coats,  or  of  its  corn-value  when  expressed  in  corn,  and  so  on.. 
Every  such  expression  tells  us,  that  what  appears  in  the  use-values,  coat,  corn, 
&c,  is  the  value  of  the  linen.  "  The  value  of  any  commodity  denoting  its  relation 
in  exchange,  we  may  speak  of  it  as  .  .  .  corn-value,  cloth-value,  according  to  the 
commodity  with  which  it  is  compared;  and  hence  there  are  a  thousand  different  kinds  of 
value,  as  many  kinds  of  value  as  there  are  commodities  in  existence,  and  all  are 
equally  real  and  equally  nominal."  (A  Critical  Dissertation  on  the  Nature,  Meas- 
ure and  Causes  of  Value;  chiefly  in  reference  to  the  writings  of  Mr.  Ricardo 
and  his  followers.  By  the  author  of  "  Essays  on  the  Formation,  &c,  of  Opu> 
ions."  London,  1825,  p.  39. )  S.  Bailey,  the  author  of  this  anonymous  work, 
a  work  which  in  its  day  created  much  stir  in  England,  fancied  that,  by  thus 
pointing  out  the  various  relative  expressions  of  one  and  the  same  value,  he  >^ 
proved  the  impossibility  of  any  determination  of  the  concept  of  value.  How- 
ever narrow  his  own  views  may  have  been,  yet,  that  he  laid  his  finger  on  some 
serious  defects  in  the  Ricardian  Theory,  is  proved  by  the  animosity  with  which 
he  was  attacked  by  Ricardo's  followers.     See  the  Westminster  Review  for  example. 

Commodities.  73 

this  value  shows  itself  in  its  true  light  as  a  congelation  of  un- 
differentiated human  labour.  For  the  labour  that  creates  it, 
now  stands  expressly  revealed,  as  labour  that  ranks  equally 
with  every  other  sort  of  human  labour,  no  matter  what  its 
form,  whether  tailoring,  ploughing,  mining,  &c.  and  no  matter, 
therefore,  whether  it  is  realised  in  coats,  corn,  iron,  or  gold. 
The  linen,  by  virtue  of  the  form  of  its  value,  now  stands  in  a 
social  relation,  no  longer  with  only  one  other  kind  of  com- 
modity, but  with  the  whole  world  of  commodities.  As  a 
commodity,  it  is  a  citizen  of  that  world.  At  the  same  time, 
the  interminable  series  of  value  equations  implies,  that  as  re- 
gards the  value  of  a  commodity,  it  is  a  matter  of  in- 
difference under  what  particular  form,  or  kind,  of  use-value  it 

In  the  first  form,  20  yds.  of  linen=l  coat,  it  might  for  ought 
that  otherwise  appears  be  pure  accident,  that  these  two  com- 
modities are  exchangeable  in  definite  quantities.  In  the  second 
form,  on  the  contrary,  we  perceive  at  once  the  background  that 
determines,  and  is  essentially  different  from,  this  accidental 
appearance.  The  value  of  the  linen  remains  unaltered  in  mag- 
nitude, whether  expressed  in  coats,  coffee,  or  iron,  or  in  num- 
berless different  commodities,  the  property  of  as  many 
different  owners.  The  accidental  relation  between  two  in- 
dividual commodity-owners  disappears.  It  becomes  plain,  that 
it  is  not  the  exchange  of  commodities  which  regulates  the 
magnitude  of  their  value ;  but,  on  the  contrary,  that  it  is  the 
magnitude  of  their  value  which  controls  their  exchange 

2.  The  particular  Equivalent  form. 

Each  commodity,  such  as  coat,  tea,  corn,  iron,  &c,  figures  in 
the  expression  of  value  of  the  linen,  as  an  equivalent,  and  con- 
sequently as  a  thing  that  is  value.  The  bodily  form  of  each 
of  these  commodities  figures  now  as  a  particular  equivalent 
form,  one  out  of  many.  In  the  same  way  the  manifold  con- 
crete useful  kinds  of  labour,  embodied  in  these  different  com- 

74  Capitalist  Production. 

modifies,  rank  now  as  so  many  different  forms  of  the  realisa- 
tion, or  manifestation,  of  undifferentiated  human  labour. 

3.  Defects  of  the  Total  or  Expanded  form  of  value. 

In  the  first  place,  the  relative  expression  of  value  is  incom- 
plete because  the  series  representing  it  is  interminable.  The 
chain  of  which  each  equation  of  value  is  a  link,  is  liable  at  any 
moment  to  be  lengthened  by  each  new  kind  of  commodity  that 
comes  into  existence  and  furnishes  the  material  for  a  fresh 
expression  of  value.  In  the  second  place,  it  is  a  many- 
coloured  mosaic  of  disparate  and  independent  expressions 
of  value.  And  lastly,  if,  as  must  be  the  case,  the  relative  value 
of  each  commodity  in  turn,  becomes  expressed  in  this  ex- 
panded form,  we  get  for  each  of  them  a  relative  value-form, 
different  in  every  case,  and  consisting  of  an  interminable 
series  of  expressions  of  value.  The  defects  of  the  expanded 
relative-value  form  are  reflected  in  the  corresponding  equiva- 
lent form.  Since  the  bodily  form  of  each  single  commodity  is 
one  particular  equivalent  form  amongst  numberless  others,  we 
have,  on  the  whole,  nothing  but  fragmentary  equivalent  forms, 
each  excluding  the  others.  In  the  same  way,  also,  the  special, 
concrete,  useful  kind  of  labour  embodied  in  each  particular 
equivalent,  is  presented  only  as  a  particular  kind  of  labour, 
and  therefore  not  as  an  exhaustive  representative  of  human 
labour  generally.  The  latter,  indeed,  gains  adequate  manifes- 
tation in  the  totality  of  its  manifold,  particular,  concrete  forms. 
But,  in  that  case,  its  expression  in  an  infinite  series  is  ever" 
incomplete  and  deficient  in  unity. 

The  expanded  relative  value  form  is,  however,  nothing  but 
the  sum  of  the  elementary  relative  expressions  or  equations  of 
the  first  kind,  such  as 

20  yards  of  linen=l  coat 

20  yards  of  linen =10  lbs.  of  tea,  etc. 

Each  of  these  implies  the  corresponding  inverted  equation, 
1  coat=20  yards  of  linen 
10  lbs.  of  tea=20  yards  of  linen,  etc. 

In  fact,  when  a  person  exchanges  his  linen  for  many  other 
commodities,  and  thus  expresses  its  value  in  a  series  of  other 

Commodities.  75 

commodities,  it  necessarily  follows,  that  the  various  owners  of 
the  latter  exchange  them  for  the  linen,  and  consequently  express 
the  value  of  their  various  commodities  in  one  and  the  same 
third  commodity,  the  linen.  If  then,  we  reverse  the  series,  20 
yards  of  linen=l  coat  or=10  lbs.  of  tea,  etc.,  that  is  to  say, 
if  we  give  expression  to  the  converse  relation  already  implied 
in  the  series,  we  get, 

C.  The  General  form  of  value. 
1  coat 

=20  yards  of  linen 

10  lbs.  of  tea 
40  lbs.  of  coffee 

1  quarter  of  corn 

2  ounces  of  gold 
•^  a  ton  of  iron 
x  com.  A.,  etc. 

1.     The  altered  character  of  tlie  form  of  value. 

All  commodities  now  express  their  value  ( 1 )  in  an  element- 
ary form,  because  in  a  single  commodity ;  ( 2 )  with  unity,  be- 
cause in  one  and  the  same  commodity.  This  form  of  value 
is  elementary  and  the  same  for  all,  therefore  general. 

The  forms  A  and  B  were  fit  only  to  express  the  value  of  a 
commodity  as  something  distinct  from  its  use-value  or  material 

The  first  form,  A,  furnishes  such  equations  as  the  follow- 
ing : — 1  coat?=20  yards  of  linen,  10  lbs.  of  tea=4  ton  of  iron. 
The  value  of  the  coat  is  equated  to  linen,  that  of  the  tea  to 
iron.  But  to  be  equated  to  linen,  and  again  to  iron,  is  to  be  as 
different  as  are  linen  and  iron.  This  form,  it  is  plain,  occurs 
practically  only  in  the  first  beginning,  when  the  products  of 
labour  are  converted  into  commodities  by  accidental  and 
occasional  exchanges. 

The  second  form,  B,  distinguishes,  in  a  more  adequate  man- 
ner than  the  first,  the  value  of  a  commodity  from  its  use-value ; 
for  the  value  of  the  coat  is  there  placed  in  contrast  under  all 
possible  shapes  with  the  bodily  form  of  the  coat ;  it  is  equated 

^6  Capitalist  Production. 

to  linen,  to  iron,  to  tea,  in  short,  to  everything  else,  only  not  to 
itself,  the  coat.  On  the  other  hand,  any  general  expression  of 
value  common  to  all  is  directly  excluded ;  for,  in  the  equation 
of  value  of  each  commodity,  all  other  commodities  now  appear 
only  under  the  form  of  equivalents.  The  expanded  form  of 
value  comes  into  actual  existence  for  the  first  time  so  soon  as 
a  particular  product  of  labour,  such  as  cattle,  is  no  longer 
exceptionally,  but  habitually,  exchanged  for  various  other 

The  third  and  lastly  developed  form  expresses  the  values  of 
the  whole  world  of  commodities  in  terms  of  a  single  commodity 
set  apart  for  the  purpose,  namely,  the  linen,  and  thus  represents 
to  us  their  values  by  means  of  their  equality  with  linen.  The 
value  of  every  commodity  is  now,  by  being  equated  to  linen, 
not  only  differentiated  from  its  own  use-value,  but  from  all 
other  use-values  generally,  and  is,  by  that  very  fact,  expressed 
as  that  which  is  common  to  all  commodities.  By  this  form, 
commodities  are,  for  the  first  time,  effectively  brought  into 
relation  with  one  another  as  values,  or  made  to  appear ,  as 
exchange  values. 

The  two  earlier  forms  either  express  the  value  of  each  com- 
modity in  terms  of  a  single  commodity  of  a  different  kind,  or 
in  a  series  of  many  such  commodities.  In  both  cases,  it  is,  so 
to  say,  the  special  business  of  each  single  commodity  to  find  an 
expression  for  its  value,  and  this  it  does  without  the  help  of 
the  others.  These  others,  with  respect  to  the  former,  play  the 
passive  parts  of  equivalents.  The  general  form  of  value  C, 
results  from  the  joint  action  of  the  whole  world  of  commodities, 
and  from  that  alone.  A  commodity  can  acquire  a  general  ex- 
pression of  its  value  only  by  all  other  commodities,  simulta- 
neously with  it,  expressing  their  values  in  the  same  equivalent ; 
and  every  new  commodity  must  follow  suit.  It  thus  becomes 
evident  that,  since  the  existence  of  commodities  as  values  is 
purely  social,  this  social  existence  can  be  expressed  by  the 
totality  of  their  social  relations  alone,  and  consequently 
that  the  form  of  their  value  must  be  a  socially  recognised 

All  commodities  being  equated  to  linen  now  appear  not  only 

Commodities.  77 

as  qualitatively  equal  as  values  generally,  but  also  as  values 
whose  magnitudes  are  capable  of  comparison.  By  expressing 
the  magnitudes  of  their  values  in  one  and  the  same  material, 
the  linen,  those  magnitudes  are  also  compared  with  each  other. 
For  instance,  10  lbs.  of  tea=20  yards  of  linen,  and  40  lbs.  of 
coffee=20  yards  of  linen.  Therefore,  10  lbs.  of  tea =40  lbs. 
of  coffee.  In  other  words,  there  is  contained  in  1  lb.  of  coffee 
only  one-fourth  as  much  substance  of  value — labour — as  is  con- 
tained in  1  lb.  of  tea. 

The  general  form  of  relative  value,  embracing  the  whole 
world  of  commodities,  converts  the  single  commodity  that  is 
excluded  from  the  rest,  and  made  to  play  the  part  of  equivalent 
— here  the  linen — into  the  universal  equivalent.  The  bodily 
form  of  the  linen  is  now  the  form  assumed  in  common  by  the 
value  of  all  commodities;  it  therefore  becomes  directly 
exchangeable  with  all  and  every  of  them.  The  substance 
linen  becomes  the  visible  incarnation,  the  social  chrysalis  state 
of  every  kind  of  human  labour.  Weaving,  which  is  the  labour 
of  certain  private  individuals  producing  a  particular  article, 
linen,  acquires  in  consequence  a  social  character,  the  character 
of  equality  with  all  other  kinds  of  labour.  The  innumerable 
equations  of  which  the  general  form  of  value  is  composed, 
equate  in  turn  the  labour  embodied  in  the  linen  to  that  em- 
bodied in  every  other  commodity,  and  they  thus  convert 
weaving  into  the  general  form  of  manifestation  of  undiffer- 
entiated human  labour.  In  this  manner  the  labour  realised  in 
the  values  of  commodities  is  presented  not  only  under  its 
negative  aspect,  under  which  abstraction  is  made  from  every 
concrete  form  and  useful  property  of  actual  work,  but 
its  own  positive  nature  is  made  to  reveal  itself  expressly. 
The  general  value-form  is  the  reduction  of  all  kinds  of 
actual  labour  to  their  common  character  of  being  human 
labour  generally,  of  being  the  expenditure  of  human  labour 

The  general  value  form,  which  represents  all  products  of 
labour  as  mere  congelations  of  undifferentiated  human  labour, 
shows  by  its  very  structure  that  it  is  the  social  resume  of  the 
world   of   commodities.     That    form    consequently    makes   it 

78  Capitalist  Production. 

indisputably  evident  that  in  the  world  of  commodities  the 
character  possessed  by  all  labour  of  being  human  labour 
constitutes  its  specific  social  character. 

2.  The  interdependent  development  of  the  Relative  form  of 
value,  and  of  the  Equivalent  form. 

The  degree  of  development  of  the  relative  form  of  value 
corresponds  to  that  of  the  equivalent  form.  But  we  must  bear 
in  mind  that  the  development  of  the  latter  is  only  the  expres- 
sion and  result  of  the  development  of  the  former. 

The  primary  or  isolated  relative  form  of  value  of  one 
commodity  converts  some  other  commodity  into  an  isolated 
equivalent.  The  expanded  form  of  relative  value,  which  is 
the  expression  of  the  value  of  one  commodity  in  terms  of  all 
other  commodities,  endows  those  other  commodities  with  the 
character  of  particular  equivalents  differing  in  kind.  And 
lastly,  a  particular  kind  of  commodity  acquires  the  character  of 
universal  equivalent,  because  all  other  commodities  make  it  the 
material  in  which  they  uniformly  express  their  value. 

The  antagonism  between  the  relative  form  of  value  and  the 
equivalent  form,  the  two  poles  of  the  value  form,  is  developed 
concurrently  with  that  form  itself. 

The  first  form;  20  yds.  of  linen =one  coat,  already  contains 
this  antagonism,  without  as  yet  fixing  it.  According  as  we 
read  this  equation  forwards  or  backwards,  the  parts  played  by 
the  linen  and  the  coat  are  different.  In  the  one  case  the 
relative  value  of  the  linen  is  expressed  in  the  coat,  in  the 
other  case  the  relative  value  of  the  coat  is  expressed  in  the 
linen.  In  this  first  form  of  value^  therefore,  it  is  difficult  to 
grasp  the  polar  contrast. 

Form  B  shows  that  only  one  single  commodity  at  a  time  can 
completely  expand  its  relative  value,  and  that  it  acquires  this 
expanded  form  only  because,  and  in  so  far  as,  all  other  com- 
modities are,  with  respect  to  it,  equivalents.  Here  we  cannot 
reverse  the  equation,  as  we  can  the  equation  20  yds.  of  linen=: 
1  coat,  without  altering  its  general  character,  and  converting 
it  from  the  expanded  form  of  value  into  the  general  form  of 

Commodities.  79 

Finally,  the  form  C  gives  to  the  world  of  commodities  a 
general  social  relative  form  of  value,  because,  and  in  so  far  as, 
thereby  all  commodities,  with  the  exception  of  one,  are  excluded 
from  the  equivalent  form.  A  single  commodity,  the  linen, 
appears  therefore  to  have  acquired  the  character  of  direct  ex- 
changeability with  every  other  commodity  because,  and  in  so 
far  as,  this  character  is  denied  to  every  other  commodity.1 

The  commodity  that  figures  as  universal  equivalent,  is,  on 
the  other  hand,  excluded  from  the  relative  value  form.  If  the 
linen,  or  any  other  commodity  serving  as  universal  equivalent, 
were,  at  the  same  time,  to  share  in  the  relative  form  of  value, 
it  would  have  to  serve  as  its  own  equivalent.  We  should  then 
have  20  yds.  of  linen=20  yds.  of  linen ;  this  tautology  ex- 
presses neither  value,  nor  magnitude  of  value.  In  order  to 
express  the  relative  value  of  the  universal  equivalent,  we  must 
rather  reverse  the  form  C.  This  equivalent  has  no  relative 
form  of  value  in  common  with  other  commodities,  but  its  value 
is  relatively  expressed  by  a  never  ending  series  of  other  com- 
modities. Thus,  the  expanded  form  of  relative  value,  or  form 
B,  now  shows  itself  as  the  specific  form  of  relative  value  for  the 
equivalent  commodity. 

3.   Transition  from  the  General  form  of  value  to  the 
Money  form. 

The  universal  equivalent  form  is  a  form  of  value  in  general. 
It  can,  therefore,  be  assumed  by  any  commodity.     On  the 

1  It  is  by  no  means  self-evident  that  this  character  of  direct  and  universal  ex- 
changeability is,  so  to  speak,  a  polar  one,  and  as  intimately  connected  with  its 
opposite  pole,  the  absence  of  direct  exchangeability,  as  the  positive  pole  of  the 
magnet  is  with  its  negative  counterpart.  It  may  therefore  be  imagined  that  all 
commodities  can  simultaneously  have  this  character  impressed  upon  them,  just  as 
it  can  be  imagined  that  all  Catholics  can  be  popes  together.  It  is,  of  course, 
highly  desirable  in  the  eyes  of  the  petit  bourgeois,  for  whom  the  production  of 
commodities  is  the  ne  plus  ultra  of  human  freedom  and  individual  independence, 
that  the  inconveniences  resulting  from  this  character  of  commodities  not  being 
directly  exchangeable,  should  be  removed.  Proudhon's  socialism  is  a  working  out 
of  this  Philistine  Utopia,  a  form  of  socialism  which,  as  I  have  elsewhere  shown, 
does  not  possess  even  the  merit  of  originality.  Long  before  his  time,  the  task 
was  attempted  with  much  better  success  by  Gray,  Bray,  and  others.  But,  for  all 
that,  wisdom  of  this  kind  flourishes  even  now  in  certain  circles  under  the  name 
of  "  science."  Never  has  any  school  played  more  tricks  with  the  word  science, 
than  that  of  Proudhon,   for 

"wo    Begriffe    fehlen 
Da   stellt  zur  rechten   Zeit  ein   Wort  sich  ein." 

80  Capitalist  Production. 

other  hand,  if  a  commodity  be  found  to  have  assumed  the 
universal  equivalent  form  (form  C),  this  is  only  because  and 
in  so  far  as  it  has  been  excluded  from  the  rest  of  all  other 
commodities  as  their  equivalent,  and  that  by  their  own  act. 
And  from  the  moment  that  this  exclusion  becomes  finally 
restricted  to  one  particular  commodity,  from  that  moment  only, 
the  general  form  of  relative  value  of  the  world  of  commodities 
obtains  real  consistence  and  general  social  validity. 

The  particular  commodity,  with  whose  bodily  form  the 
equivalent  form  is  thus  socially  identified,  now  becomes  the 
money  commodity,  or  serves  as  money.  It  becomes  the  special 
social  function  of  that  commodity,  and  consequently  its  social 
monopoly,  to  play  within  the  world  of  commodities  the  part  of 
the  universal  equivalent.  Amongst  the  commodities  which,  in 
form  B,  figure  as  particular  equivalents  of  the  linen,  and  in 
form  C,  express  in  common  their  relative  values  in  linen,  this 
foremost  place  has  been  attained  by  one  in  particular — namely, 
gold.  If,  then,  in  form  C  we  replace  the  linen  by  gold,  we 

D.  The  Money  form, 

20  yards  of  linen       = 

1  coat  = 

10  lb  of  tea  = 

40  lb  of  coffee  — 

1  qr.  of  corn  = 

H  a  ton  of  iron  = 

x  commodity  A        = 

In  passing  from  form  A  to  form  B,  and  from  the  latter  to 

form  C,  the  changes  are  fundamental.     On  the  other  hand, 

there  is  no  difference  between  forms  C  and  D,  except  that,  in 

the  latter,  gold  has  assumed  the  equivalent  form  in  the  place 

of  linen.     Gold  is  in  form  D,  what  linen  was  in  form  C — the 

universal  equivalent.     The  progress  consists  in  this  alone,  that 

the  character  of  direct  and  universal  exchangeability — in  other 

words,  that  the  universal  equivalent  form — has  now,  by  social 

custom,  become  finally  identified  with  the  substance,  gold. 

2  ounces  of  gold. 

Commodities.  81 

Gold  is  now  money  with  reference  to  all  other  commodities 
only  because  it  was  previously,  with  reference  to  them,  a 
simple  commodity.  Like  all  other  commodities,  it  was  also 
capable  of  serving  as  an  equivalent,  either  as  simple  equivalent 
in  isolated  exchanges,  or  as  particular  equivalent  by  the  side 
of  others.  Gradually  it  began  to  serve,  within  varying  limits, 
as  universal  equivalent.  So  soon  as  it  monopolises  this  posi- 
tion in  the  expression  of  value  for  the  world  of  commodities, 
it  becomes  the  money  commodity,  and  then,  and  not  till  then, 
does  form  D  become  distinct  from  form  C,  and  the  general 
form  of  value  become  changed  into  the  money  form. 

The  elementary  expression  of  the  relative  value  of  a  single 
commodity,  such  as  linen,  in  terms  of  the  commodity,  such  as* 
gold,  that  plays  the  part  of  money,  is  the  price  form  of  that 
commodity.  The  price  form  of  the  linen  is  therefore 
20  yards  of  linen=2  ounces  of  gold,  or,  if  2  ounces  of  gold 
when  coined  are  £2,  20  yards  of  linen=£2. 

The  difficulty  in  forming  a  concept  of  the  money  form,  con- 
sists in  clearly  comprehending  the  universal  equivalent  form, 
and  as  a  necessary  corollary,  the  general  form  of  value,  form  C. 
The  latter  is  deducible  from  form  B,  the  expanded  form  of 
value,  the  essential  component  element  of  which,  we  saw,  is 
form  A,  20  yards  of  linen=l  coat  or  x  commodity  A=y  com- 
modity B.  The  simple  commodity  form  is  therefore  the  germ 
of  the  money  form. 

Section  4. — The  fetishism  of  commodities  and  the 
secret  thereof. 

A  commodity  appears,  at  first  sight,  a  very  trivial  thing,  and 
easily  understood.  Its  analysis  shows  that  it  is,  in  reality,  a 
very  queer  thing,  abounding  in  metaphysical  subtleties  and 
theological  niceties.  So  far  as  it  is  a  value  in  use,  there  is 
nothing  mysterious  about  it;  whether  we  consider  it  from  the 
point  of  view  that  by  its  properties  it  is  capable  of  satisfying 
human  wants,  or  from  the  point  that  those  properties  are  the 
product  of  human  labour.  It  is  as  clear  as  noon-day,  that  man, 
by  his  industry,  changes  the  forms  of  the  materials  furnished 
by  nature,  in  such  a  way  as  to  make  them  useful  to  him.     The 

82  Capitalist  Production. 

form  of  wood,  for  instance,  is  altered,  by  making  a  table  out 
of  it.  Yet,  for  all  that  the  table  continues  to  be  that  common, 
every-day  thing,  wood.  But,  so  soon  as  it  steps  forth  as  a 
commodity,  it  is  changed  into  something  transcendent.  It  not 
only  stands  with  its  feet  on  the  ground,  but,  in  relation  to  all 
other  commodities,  it  stands  on  its  head,  and  evolves  out  of  its 
wooden  brain  grotesque  ideas,  far  more  wonderful  than  "table- 
turning"  ever  was. 

The  mystical  character  of  commodities  does  not  originate, 
therefore,  in  their  use-value.  Just  as  little  does  it  proceed 
from  the  nature  of  the  determining  factors  of  value.  For,  in 
the  first  place,  however  varied  the  useful  kinds  of  labour,  or 
productive  activities,  may  be,  it  is  a  physiological  fact,  that 
they  are  functions  of  the  human  organism.,  and  that  each  such 
function,  whatever  may  be  its  nature  or  form,  is  essentially  the 
expenditure  of  human  brain,  nerves,  muscles,  &c.  Secondly, 
with  regard  to  that  which  forms  the  ground-work  for  the  quan- 
titative determination  of  value,  namely,  the  duration  of  that 
expenditure,  or  the  quantity  of  labour,  it  is  quite  clear  that 
there  is  a  palpable  difference  between  its  quantity  and  quality. 
In  all  states  of  society,  the  labour-time  that  it  costs  to  produce 
the  means  of  subsistence  must  necessarily  be  an  object  of  inter- 
est to  mankind,  though  not  of  equal  interest  in  different  stages 
of  development.1  And  lastly,  from  the  moment  that  men  in 
any  way  work  for  one  another,  their  labour  assumes  a  social 

Whence,  then,  arises  the  enigmatical  character  of  the  product 
of  labour,  so  soon  as  it  assumes  the  form  of  commodities  ? 
Clearly  from  this  form  itself.  The  equality  of  all  sorts  of 
human  labour  is  expressed  objectively  by  their  products  all 
being  equally  values ;  the  measure  of  the  expenditure  of  labour- 
power  by  the  duration  of  that  expenditure,  takes  the  form  of 
the  quantity  of  value  of  the  products  of  labour;  and  finally, 
the  mutual  relations  of  the  producers,  within  which  the  social 

1  Among  the  ancient  Germans  the  unit  for  measuring  land  was  what  could  be 
harvested  in  a  day,  and  was  called  Tagwerk,  Tagwanne  (jurnale,  or  terra  jurnalis, 
or  diornalis),  Mannsmaad,  &c.  (See  G.  L.  von  Maurer  Einleitung  zur  Geschichte 
der    Mark  — ,    &c.    Verfassung,    Munchen,    1859,    p.    129-59.) 

Commodities.  83 

character  of  their  labour  affirms  itself,  take  the  form  of  a 
social  relation  between  the  products. 

A  commodity  is  therefore  a  mysterious  thing,  simply  because 
in  it  the  social  character  of  men's  labour  appears  to  them  as  an 
objective  character  stamped  upon  the  product  of  that  labour; 
because  the  relation  of  the  producers  to  the  sum  total  of  their 
own  labour  is  presented  to  them  as  a  social  relation,  existing 
not  between  themselves,  but  between  the  products  of  their 
labour.  This  is  the  reason  why  the  products  of  labour  become 
commodities,  social  things  whose  qualities  are  at  the  same  time 
perceptible  and  imperceptible  by  the  senses.  In  the  same  way 
the  light  from  an  object  is  perceived  by  us  not  as  the  subjective 
excitation  of  our  optic  nerve,  but  as  the  objective  form  of 
something  outside  the  eye  itself.  But,  in  the  act  of  seeing, 
there  is  at  all  events,  an  actual  passage  of  light  from  one  thing 
to  another,  from  the  external  object  to  the  eye.  There  is  a 
physical  relation  between  physical  things.  But  it  is  different 
with  commodities.  There,  the  existence  of  the  things  qua 
commodities,  and  the  value  relation  between  the  products  of 
labour  which  stamps  them  as  commodities,  have  absolutely  no 
connection  with  their  physical  properties  and  with  the  material 
relations  arising  therefrom.  There  it  is  a  definite  social  rela- 
tion between  men,  that  assumes,  in  their  eyes,  the  fantastic 
form  of  a  relation  between  things.  In  order,  therefore,  to  find 
an  analogy,  we  must  have  recourse  to  the  mist-enveloped  re- 
gions of  the  religious  world.  In  that  world  the  productions  of 
the  human  brain  appear  as  independent  beings  endowed  with 
life,  and  entering  into  relation  both  with  one  another  and  the 
human  race.  So  it  is  in  the  world  of  commodities  with  the 
products  of  men's  hands.  This  I  call  the  Fetishism  which  at- 
taches itself  to  the  products  of  labour,  so  soon  as  they  are  pro- 
duced as  commodities,  and  which  is  therefore  inseparable  from 
the  production  of  commodities. 

This  Fetishism  of  commodities  has  its  origin,  as  the  fore- 
going analysis  has  already  shown,  in  the  peculiar  social 
character  of  the  labour  that  produces   them. 

As  a  general  rule,  articles  of  utility  become  commodities, 
only  because  they  are  products  of  the  labour  of  private  individ- 

84  Capitalist  Production. 

uals  or  groups  of  individuals  who  carry  on  their  work  inde- 
pendently of  each  other.  The  sum  total  of  the  labour  of  all 
these  private  individuals  forms  the  aggregate  labour  of  society. 
Since  the  producers  do  not  come  into  social  contact  with  each 
other  until  they  exchange  their  products,  the  specific  social 
character  of  each  producer's  labour  does  not  show  itself  except 
in  the  act  of  exchange.  In  other  words,  the  labour  of  the  in- 
dividual asserts  itself  as  a  part  of  the  labour  of  society,  only 
by  means  of  the  relations  which  the  act  of  exchange  establishes 
directly  between  the  products,  and  indirectly,  through  them, 
between  the  producers.  To  the  latter,  therefore,  the  relations 
connecting  the  labour  of  one  individual  with  that  of  the  rest  ap- 
pear, not  as  direct  social  relations  between  individuals  at  work, 
but  as  what  they  really  are,  material  relations  between  persons 
and  social  relations  between  things.  It  is  only  by  being  ex- 
changed that  the  products  of  labour  acquire,  as  values,  one  uni- 
form social  status,  distinct  from  their  varied  forms  of  existence 
as  objects  of  utility.  This  division  of  a  product  into  a  useful 
thing  and  a  value  becomes  practically  important,  only  when  ex- 
change has  acquired  such  an  extension  that  useful  articles  are 
produced  for  the  purpose  of  being  exchanged,  and  their  char- 
acter as  values  has  therefore  to  be  taken  into  account,  before- 
hand, during  production.  From  this  moment  the  labour  of  the 
individual  producer  acquires  socially  a  two-fold  character. 
On  the  one  hand,  it  must,  as  a  definite  useful  kind  of  labour, 
satisfy  a  definite  social  want,  and  thus  hold  its  place  as  part 
and  parcel  of  the  collective  labour  of  all,  as  a  branch  of  a  social 
division  of  labour  that  has  sprung  up  spontaneously.  On  the 
other  hand,  it  can  satisfy  the  manifold  wants  of  the  individual 
producer  himself,  only  in  so  far  as  the  mutual  exchangeability 
of  all  kinds  of  useful  private  labour  is  an  established  social 
fact,  and  therefore  the  private  useful  labour  of  each  producer 
ranks  on  an  equality  with  that  of  all  others.  The  equalization 
of  the  most  different  kinds  of  labour  can  be  the  result  only  of 
an  abstraction  from  their  inequalities,  or  of  reducing  them  to 
their  common  denominator,  viz.,  expenditure  of  human  labour 
power  or  human  labour  in  the  abstract.  The  two-fold  social 
character  of  the  labour  of  the  individual  appears  to  him,  when 

Commodities.  85 

reflected  in  his  brain,  only  under  those  forms  which  are  im- 
pressed upon  that  labour  in  everyday  practice  by  the  exchange 
of  products.  In  this  way,  the  character  that  his  own  labour 
possesses  of  being  socially  useful  takes  the  form  of  the  condi- 
tion, that  the  product  must  be  not  only  useful,  but  useful  for 
others,  and  the  social  character  that  his  particular  labour  has  of 
being  the  equal  of  all  other  particular  kinds  of  labour,  takes  the 
form  that  all  the  physically  different  articles  that  are  the  pro- 
ducts of  labour,  have  one  common  quality,  viz,  that  of  having 

Hence,  when  we  bring  the  products  of  our  labour  into  rela- 
tion with  each  other  as  values,  it  is  not  because  we  see  in  these 
articles  the  material  receptacles  of  homogeneous  human  labour. 
Quite  the  contrary ;  whenever,  by  an  exchange,  we  equate  as 
values  our  different  products,  by  that  very  act,  we  also  equate, 
as  human  labour,  the  different  kinds  of  labour  expended  upon 
them.  We  are  not  aware  of  this,  nevertheless  we  do  it.1 
Value,  therefore,  does  not  stalk  about  with  a  label  describing 
what  it  is.  It  is  value,  rather,  that  converts  every  product 
into  a  social  hieroglyphic.  Later  on,  we  try  to  decipher  the 
hieroglyphic,  to  get  behind  the  secret  of  our  own  social  pro- 
ducts ;  ^or  to  stamp  an  object  of  utility  as  a  value,  is  just  as 
much  a  social  product  as  language.  The  recent  scientific  dis- 
covery, that  the  products  of  labour,  so  far  as  they  are  values, 
are  but  material  expressions  of  the  human  labour  spent  in 
their  production,  marks,  indeed,  an  epoch  in  the  history  of  the 
development  of  the  human  race,  but,  by  no  means,  dissipates 
the  mist  through  which  the  social  character  of  labour  appears 
to  us  to  be  an  objective  character  of  the  products  themselves. 
The  fact,  that  in  the  particular  form  of  production  with  which 
we  are  dealing,  viz.,  the  production  of  commodities,  the  specific 
social  character  of  private  labour  carried  on  independently, 
consists  in  the  equality  of  every  kind  of  that  labour,  by  virtue 
of  its  being  human  labour,  which  character,  therefore,  assumes 

*When,  therefore,  Galiani  says:  Value  is  a  relation  between  persons — >"La 
Ricchezza  e  una  ragione  tra  due  persone," — he  ought  to  have  added:  a  relation  be- 
tween persons  expressed  as  a  relation  between  things.  (Galiani:  Delia  Moneta,  p. 
221,  V.  III.  of  Custodi's  collection  of  "Scrittori  Classici  Italiani  di  Economia 
Politicia."     Parte  Moderna,   Milano,   1803.) 

86  Capitalist  Production. 

in  the  product  the  form  of  value — this  fact  appears  to  the 
producers,  notwithstanding  the  discovery  above  referred  to, 
to  be  just  as  real  and  final,  as  the  fact,  that,  after  the  discovery 
by  science  of  the  component  gases  of  air,  the  atmosphere  itself 
remained  unaltered. 

What,  first  of  all,  practically  concerns  producers  when  they 
make  an  exchange,  is  the  question,  how  much  of  some  other 
product  they  get  for  their  own  ?  in  what  proportions  the  pro- 
ducts are  exchangeable  ?  When  these  proportions  have,  by 
custom,  attained  a  certain  stability,  they  appear  to  result  from 
the  nature  of  the  products,  so  that,  for  instance,  one  ton  of  iron 
and  two  ounces  of  gold  appear  as  naturally  to  be  of  equal  value 
as  a  pound  of  gold  and  a  pound  of  iron  in  spite  of  their 
different  physical  and  chemical  qualities  appear  to  be  of  equal 
weight.  The  character  of  having  value,  when  once  impressed 
upon  products,  obtains  fixity  only  by  reason  of  their  acting  and 
re-acting  upon  each  other  as  quantities  of  value.  These 
quantities  vary  continually,  independently  of  the  will,  fore- 
sight and  action  of  the  producers.  To  them,  their  own  social 
action  takes  the  form  of  the  action  of  objects,  which  rule  the 
producers  instead  of  being  ruled  by  them.  It  requires  a  fully 
developed  production  of  commodities  before,  from  accumulated 
experience  alone,  the  scientific  conviction  springs  up,  that  all 
the  different  kinds  of  private  labour,  which  arc  carried  on  in- 
dependently of  each  other,  and  yet  as  spontaneously  developed 
branches  of  the  social  division  of  labour,  are  continually  being 
reduced  to  the  quantitive  proportions  in  which  society  re- 
quires them.  And  why  ?  Because,  in  the  midst  of  all  the 
accidental  and  ever  fluctuating  exchange-relations  between 
the  products,  the  labour-time  socially  necessary  for  their  pro- 
duction forcibly  asserts  itself  like  an  over-riding  law  of  nature. 
The  law  of  gravity  thus  asserts  itself  when  a  house  falls  about 
our  ears.1  The  determination  of  the  magnitude  of  value  by 
labour-time  is  therefore  a  secret,  hidden  under  the  apparent 

1  "  What  are  we  to  think  of  a  law  that  asserts  itself  only  by  periodical  revolu- 
tions? It  is  just  nothing  but  a  law  of  Nature,  founded  on  the  want  of  knowledge  of 
those  whose  action  is  the  subject  of  it."  (Friedrich  Engels:  Umrisse  zu  einer 
Kritik  der  Nationa  lokonomie,"  in  the  "Deutsch-franzosische  Jahrbucher,"  edited  by 
Arnold   Ruge  and  Karl  Marx.     Paris,  1844. 

Commodities.  87 

fluctuations  in  the  relative  values  of  commodities.  Its  dis- 
covery, while  removing  all  appearance  of  mere  accidentally 
from  the  determination  of  the  magnitude  of  the  values  of 
products,  yet  in  no  way  alters  the  mode  in  which  that 
determination  takes  place. 

Man's  reflections  on  the  forms  of  social  life,and  consequently, 
also,  his  scientific  analysis  of  those  forms,  take  a  course  directly 
opposite  to  that  of  their  actual  historical  development.  He 
begins,  post  festum,  with  the  results  of  the  process  of  develop- 
ment ready  to  hand  before  him.  The  characters  that  stamp 
products  as  commodities,and  whose  establishment  is  a  necessary 
preliminary  to  the  circulation  of  commodities,  have  already 
acquired  the  stability  of  natural, self-understood  forms  of  social 
life,  before  man  seeks  to  decipher,  not  their  historical  character, 
for  in  his  eyes  they  are  immutable,  but  their  meaning.  Con- 
sequently it  was  the  analysis  of  the  prices  of  commodities 
that  alone  led  to  the  determination  of  the  magnitude  of  value, 
and  it  was  the  common  expression  of  all  commodities  in  money 
that  alone  led  to  the  establishment  of  their  characters  as  values. 
It  is,  however,  just  this  ulimate  money  form  of  the  world  of 
commodities  that  actually  conceals,  instead  of  disclosing,  the 
social  character  of  private  labour,  and  the  social  relations 
between  the  individual  producers.  When  I  state  that  coats  or 
boots  stand  in  a  relation  to  linen,  because  it  is  the  universal 
incarnation  of  abstract  human  labour,  the  absurdity  of  the 
statement  is  self-evident.  Nevertheless,  when  the  producers  of 
coats  and  boots  compare  those  articles  with  linen,  or,  what  is 
the  same  thing  with  gold  or  silver,  as  the  universal  equivalent, 
they  express  the  relation  between  their  own  private  labour  and 
the  collective  labour  of  society  in  the  same  absurd  form. 

The  categories  of  bourgeois  economy  consist  of  such  like 
forms.  They  are  forms  of  thought  expressing  with  social 
validity  the  conditions  and  relations  of  a  definite,  historically 
determined  mode  of  production,  viz.,  the  production  of  com- 
modities. The  whole  mystery  of  commodities,  all  the  magic 
and  necromancy  that  surrounds  the  products  of  labour  as  long 
as  they  take  the  form  of  commodities,  vanishes  therefore,  so 
soon  as  we  come  to  other  forms  of  production. 

88  Capitalist  Production. 

Since  Robinson  Crusoe's  experiences  are  a  favorite  theme 
with  political  economists,1  let  us  take  a  look  at  him  on  his 
island.  Moderate  though  he  be,  yet  some  few  wants  he  has  to 
satisfy,  and  must  therefore  do  a  little  useful  work  of  various 
sorts,  such  as  making  tools  and  furniture,  taming  goats,  fish- 
ing and  hunting.  Of  his  prayers  and  the  like  we  take  no  ac- 
count, since  they  are  a  source  of  pleasure  to  him,  and  he  looks 
upon  them  as  so  much  recreation.  In  spite  of  the  variety  of 
his  work,  he  knows  that  his  labour,  whatever  its  form,  is  but 
the  activity  of  one  and  the  same  Robinson,  and  consequently, 
that  it  consists  of  nothing  but  different  modes  of  human 
labour.  Necessity  itself  compels  him  to  apportion  his  time 
accurately  between  his  different  kinds  of  work.  Whether  one 
kind  occupies  a  greater  space  in  his  general  activity  than  an- 
other, depends  on  the  difficulties,  greater  or  less  as  the  case 
may  be,  to  be  overcome  in  attaining  the  useful  effect  aimed 
at.  This  our  friend  Robinson  soon  learns  by  experience,  and 
having  rescued  a  watch,  ledger,  and  pen  and  ink  from  the 
wreck,  commences,  like  a  true-born  Briton,  to  keep  a  set  of 
books.  His  stock-book  contains  a  list  of  the  objects  of  utility 
that  belong  to  him,  of  the  operations  necessary  for  their  pro- 
duction ;  and  lastly,  of  the  labour  time  that  definite  quantities 
of  those  objects  have,  on  an  average,  cost  him.  All  the  rela- 
tions between  Robinson  and  the  objects  that  form  this  wealth 
of  his  own  creation,  are  here  so  simple  and  clear  as  to  be  in- 
telligible without  exertion,  even  to  Mr.  Sedley  Taylor.  And 
yet  those  relations  contain  all  that  is  essential  to  the  deter- 
mination of  value. 

Let  us  now  transport  ourselves  from  Robinson's  island 
bathed  in  light  to  the  European  middle  ages  shrouded  in  dark- 
ness.    Here,  instead  of  the  independent  man,  we  find  every- 

1  Even  Ricardo  has  his  stories  a  la  Robinson.  "He  makes  the  primitive  hunter 
and  the  primitive  fisher  straightway,  as  owners  of  commodities,  exchange  fish  and 
game  in  the  proportion  in  which  labour-time  is  incorporated  in  these  exchange 
values.  On  this  occasion  he  commits  the  anachronism  of  making  these  men  apply  to 
the  calculation,  so  far  as  their  implements  have  to  be  taken  into  account,  the 
annuity  tables  in  current  use  on  the  London  Exchange  in  the  year  1817.  'The  par- 
allelograms of  Mr.  Owen'  appear  to  be  the  only  form  of  society,  besides  the  bour- 
geois form,  with  which  he  was  acquainted."  (Karl  Marx:  "Critique,"  &c.( 
p.  69-70.) 

Commodities.  89 

one  dependent,  serfs  and  lords,  vassals  and  suzerains,  lay- 
men and  clergy.  Personal  dependence  here  characterises  the 
social  relations  of  production  just  as  much  as  it  does  the  other 
spheres  of  life  organized  on  the  basis  of  that  production.  But 
for  the  very  reason  that  personal  dependence  forms  the  ground- 
work of  society,  there  is  no  necessity  for  labour  and  its  prod- 
ucts to  assume  a  fantastic  form  different  from  their  reality. 
They  take  the  shape,  in  the  transactions  of  society,  of  services 
in  kind  and  payments  in  kind.  Here  the  particular  and  natu- 
ral form  of  labour,  and  not,  as  in  a  society  based  on  production 
of  commodities,  its  general  abstract  form  is  the  immediate 
social  form  of  labour.  Compulsory  labour  is  just  as  properly 
measured  by  time,  as  commodity-producing  labour;  but  every 
serf  knows  that  what  he  expends  in  the  service  of  his  lord,  is 
a  definite  quantity  of  his  own  personal  labour-power.  The 
iithe  to  be  rendered  to  the  priest  is  more  matter  of  fact  than 
his  blessing.  No  matter,  then,  what  we  may  think  of  the 
parts  played  by  the  different  classes  of  people  themselves  in 
this  society,  the  social  relations  between  individuals  in  the 
performance  of  their  labour,  appear  at  all  events  as  their 
own  mutual  personal  relations,  and  are  not  disguised  under 
the  shape  of  social  relations  between  the  products  of  labour. 

For  an  example  of  labour  in  common  or  directly  associated 
labour,  we  have  no  occasion  to  go  back  to  that  spontaneously 
developed  form  which  we  find  on  the  threshold  of  the  history 
of  all  civilized  races.1  We  have  one  close  at  hand  in  the 
patriarchal  industries  of  a  peasant  family,  that  produces  corn, 
cattle,  yarn,  linen,  and  clothing  for  home  use.  These  differ- 
ent articles  are,  as  regards  the  family,  so  many  products  of  its 
labour,  but  as  between  themselves,  they  are  not  commodities. 
The  different  kinds  of  labour,  such  as  tillage,  cattle  tending, 

1  "A  ridiculous  presumption  has  latterly  got  abroad  that  common  property  in 
its  primitive  form  is  specifically  a  Slavonian,  or  even  exclusively  Russian 
form.  It  is  the  primitive  form  that  we  can  prove  to  have  existed  amongst 
Romans,  Teutons,  and  Celts,  and  even  to  this  day  we  find  numerous  examples, 
ruins  though  they  be,  in  India.  A  more  exhaustive  study  of  Asiatic,  and 
especially  of  Indian  forms  of  common  property,  would  show  how  from  the  different 
forms  of  primitive  common  property,  different  forms  of  its  dissolution  have  been 
developed.  Thus,  for  instance,  the  various  original  types  of  Roman  and  Teutonic 
private  property  are  deducible  from  different  forms  of  Indian  common  property," 
(Karl   Marx.     "Critique,"   &c,   p.   29,    footnote.) 

90  Capitalist  Production. 

spinning,  weaving  and  making,  which  result  in  the 
various  products,  are  in  themselves,  and  such  as  they  are, 
direct  social  functions,  because  functions  of  the  family,  which 
just  as  much  as  a  society  based  on  the  production  of  commod- 
ities, possesses  a  spontaneously  developed  system  of  division 
of  labour.  The  distribution  of  the  work  within  the  family, 
and  the  regulation  of  the  labour-time  of  the  several  members, 
depend  as  well  upon  differences  of  age  and  sex  as  upon  nat- 
ural conditions  varying  with  the  seasons.  The  labour-power 
of  each  individual,  by  its  very  nature,  operates  in  this  case 
merely  as  a  definite  portion  of  the  whole  labour-power  of  the 
family,  and  therefore,  the  measure  of  the  expenditure  of  in- 
dividual labour-power  by  its  duration,  appears  here  by  its 
very  nature  as  a  social  character  of  their  labour. 

Let  us  now  picture  to  ourselves,  by  way  of  change,  a  com- 
munity of  free. individuals,  carrying  on  their  work  with  the 
means  of  production  in  common,  in  which  the  labour-power  of 
all  the  different  individuals  is  consciously  applied  as  the 
combined  labour-power  of  the  community.  All  the  charac- 
teristics of  Robinson's  labour  are  here  repeated,  but  with  this 
difference,  that  they  are  social,  instead  of  individual.  Every- 
thing produced  by  him  was  exclusively  the  result  of  his  own 
personal  labour,  and  therefore  simply  an  object  of  use  for 
himself.  The  total  product  of  our  community  is  a  social 
product.  One  portion  serves  as  fresh  means  of  production 
and  remains  social.  But  another  portion  is  consumed  by  the 
members  as  means  of  subsistence.  A  distribution  of  this 
portion  amongst  them  is  consequently  necessary.  The  mode 
of  this  distribution  will  vary  with  the  productive  organization 
of  the  community,  and  the  degree  of  historical  development 
attained  by  the  producers.  We  will  assume,  but  merely  for 
the  sake  of  a  parallel  with  the  production  of  commodities,  that 
the  share  of  each  individual  producer  in  the  means  of  subsis- 
tence is  determined  by  his  labour-time.  Labour-time  would, 
in  that  case,  play  a  double  part.  Its  apportionment  in  accord- 
ance with  a  definite  social  plan  maintains  the  proper  propor- 
tion between  the  different  kinds  of  work  to  be  done  and  the 
various  wants  of  the  community.     On  the  other  hand,  it  also 

Commodities.  91 

serves  as  a  measure  of  the  portion  of  the  common  labour  borne 
by  each  individual  and  of  his  share  in  the  part  of  the  total 
product  destined  for  individual  consumption.  The  social  re- 
lations of  the  individual  producers,  with  regard  both  to  their 
labour  and  to  its  products,  are  in  this  case  perfectly  simple 
and  intelligible,  and  that  with  regard  not  only  to  production 
but  also  to  distribution. 

The  religious  world  is  but  the  reflex  of  the  real  world.  And 
for  a  society  based  upon  the  production  of  commodities,  in 
which  the  producers  in  general  enter  into  social  relations  with 
one  another  by  treating  their  products  as  commodities  and 
values,  whereby  they  reduce  their  individual  private  labour  to 
the  standard  of  homogeneous  human  labour — for  such  a  soci- 
ety, Christianity  with  its  cultus  of  abstract  man,  more  espec- 
ially in  its  bourgeois  developments,  Protestantism,  Deism,  &c, 
is  the  most  fitting  form  of  religion.  In  the  ancient  Asiatic 
and  other  ancient  modes  of  production,  we  find  that  the  con- 
version of  products  into  commodities,  and  therefore  the  con- 
version of  men  into  producers  of  commodities,  holds  a  subor- 
dinate place,  which,  however,  increases  in  importance  as  the 
primitive  communities  approach  nearer  and  nearer  to  their 
dissolution.  Trading  nations,  properly  so  called,  exist  in  the 
ancient  world  only  in  its  interstices,  like  the  gods  of  Epicurus 
in  the  Intermundia,  or  like  Jews  in  the  pores  of  Polish  soci- 
ety. Those  ancient  social  organisms  of  production  are,  as 
compared  with  bourgeois  society,  extremely  simple  and  trans- 
parent. But  they  are  founded  either  on  the  immature  devel- 
opment of  man  individually,  who  has  not  yet  severed  the  um- 
bilical cord  that  unites  him  with  his  fellow  men  in  a  primi- 
tive tribal  community,  or  upon  direct  relations  of  subjec- 
tion. They  can  arise  and  exist  only  when  the  development  of 
the  productive  power  of  labour  has  not  risen  beyond  a  low 
stage,  and  when,  therefore,  the  social  relations  within  the 
sphere  of  material  life,  between  man  and  man,  and  between 
man  and  Nature,  are  correspondingly  narrow.  This  narrow- 
ness is  reflected  in  the  ancient  worship  of  Nature,  and  in  the 
other  elements  of  the  popular  religions.  The  religious  reflex 
of  the  real  world  can,  in  any  case,  only  then  finally  vanish, 

92  Capitalist  Production. 

when  the  practical  relations  of  everyday  life  offer  to  man  none 
but  perfectly  intelligible  and  reasonable  relations  with  re- 
gard to  his  fellowmen  and  to  nature. 

The  life-process  of  society,  which  is  based  on  the  process  of 
material  production,  does  not  strip  off  its  mystical  veil  until  it 
is  treated  as  production  by  freely  associated  men,  and  is  con- 
sciously regulated  by  them  in  accordance  with  a  settled  plan. 
This,  however,  demands  for  society  a  certain  material  ground- 
work or  set  of  conditions  of  existence  which  in  their  turn  are 
the  spontaneous  product  of  a  long  and  painful  process  of 

Political  economy  has  indeed  analysed,  however  incom- 
pletely,1 value  and  its  magnitude,  and  has  discovered  what 
lies  beneath  these  forms.  But  it  has  never  once  asked  the 
question  why  labour  is  represented  by  the  value  of  its  product 

1  The  insufficiency  of  Ricardo's  analysis  of  the  magnitude  of  value,  and  his  an- 
alysis is  by  far  the  best,  will  appear  from  the  3rd  and  4th  book  of  this  work.  As 
regards  values  in  general,  it  is  the  weak  point  of  the  classical  school  of  political 
economy  that  it  nowhere,  expressly  and  with  full  consciousness,  distinguishes  be- 
tween labour,  as  it  appears  in  the  value  of  a  product  and  the  same  labour,  as  it  ap- 
pears in  the  use-value  of  that  product.  Of  course  the  distinction  is  practically  made 
since  this  school  treats  labour,  at  one  time  under  its  quantitative  aspect,  at  another 
under  its  qualitative  aspect.  But  it  has  not  the  least  idea,  that  when  the 
difference  between  various  kinds  of  labour  is  treated  as  purely  quantitative, 
their  qualitative  unity  or  equality,  and  therefore  their  reduction  to  abstract  human 
labour,  is  implied.  For  instance,  Ricardo  declares  that  he  agrees  with  Destutt 
de  Tracy  in  this  proposition:  "As  it  is  certain  that  our  physical  and  moral 
faculties  are  alone  our  original  riches,  the  employment  of  those  faculties,  labour 
of  some  kind,  is  our  only  original  treasure,  and  it  is  always  from  this  employment 
that  all  those  things  are  created,  which  we  call  riches.  .  .  .  It  is  certain,  too, 
that  all  those  things  only  represent  the  labour  which  has  created  them,  and  if  they 
have  a  value,  or  even  two  distinct  values,  they  can  only  derive  them  from  that 
(the  value)  of  the  labour  from  which  they  emanate."  (Ricardo,  The  Principles 
of  Pol.  Econ.  3  Ed.  Lond.  1S21,  p.  334.)  We  would  here  only  point  out  that 
Ricardo  puts  his  own  more  profound  interpretation  upon  the  words  of  Destutt. 
What  the  latter  really  says  is,  that  on  the  one  hand  all  things  which  constitute 
wealth  represent  the  labour  that  creates  them,  but  that  on  the  other  hand,  they 
acquire  their  "two  different  values"  (use-value  and  exchange-value)  from  "the 
value  of  labour."  He  thus  falls  into  the  commonplace  error  of  the  vulgar  econo- 
mists, who  assume  the  value  of  one  commodity  (in  this  case  labour)  in  order  to  deter- 
mine the  values  of  the  rest.  But  Ricardo  reads  him  as  if  he  had  said,  that  labour 
(not  the  value  of  labour)  is  embodied  both  in  use-value  and  exchange-value. 
Nevertheless,  Ricardo  himself  pays  so  little  attention  to  the  two-fold  character 
of  the  labour  which  has  a  two-fold  embodiment,  that  he  devotes  the  whole  of  his 
chapter  on  "  Value  and  Riches,  Their  Distinctive  Properties,"  to  a  laborious  ex- 
amination of  the  trivialities  of  a  J.  B.  Say.  And  at  the  finish  he  is  quite 
astonished  to  find  that  Destutt  on  the  one  hand  agrees  with  him  as  to  labour  being 
the  source  of  value,  and  on  the  other  hand  with  J.  B.  Say  as  to  the  notion  of 

Commodities.  93 

and  labour  time  by  the  magnitude  of  tHat  value.1  These  for- 
mulas, which  bear  stamped  upon  them  in  unmistakable  let- 
ters, that  they  belong  to  a  state  of  society,  in  which  the  process 
of  production  has  the  mastery  over  man,  instead  of  being  con- 
trolled by  him,  such  formulas  appear  to  the  bourgeois  intellect 
to  be  as  much  a  self-evident  necessity  imposed  by  nature  as 
productive  labour  itself.  Hence  forms  of  social  production 
that  preceded  the  bourgeois  form,  are  treated  by  the  bour- 
geoisie in  much  the  same  way  as  the  Fathers  of  the  Church 
treated  pre-Christian  religions.2 

1  It  is  one  of  the  chief  failings  of  classical  economy  that  it  has  never  succeeded, 
by  means  of  its  analysis  of  commodities,  and,  in  particular,  of  their  value,  in  dis- 
covering that  form  under  which  value  becomes  exchange-value.  Even  Adam 
Smith  and  Ricardo,  the  best  representatives  of  the  school,  treat  the  form  of  value 
as  a  thing  of  no  importance,  as  having  no  connection  with  the  inherent  nature 
of  commodities.  The  reason  for  this  is  not  solely  because  their  attention  is  en- 
tirely absorbed  in  the  analysis  of  the  magnitude  of  value.  It  lies  deeper.  The 
value  form  of  the  product  of  labour  is  not  only  the  most  abstract,  but  is  also  the 
most  universal  form,  taken  by  the  product  in  bourgeois  production,  and  stamps 
that  production  as  a  particular  species  of  social  production,  and  thereby  gives 
it  its  special  historical  character.  If  then  we  treat  this  mode  of  production  as  one 
eternally  fixed  by  nature  for  every  state  of  society,  we  necessarily  overlook  that 
which  is  the  differentia  specifica  of  the  value-form,  and  consequently  of  the 
commodity-form,  and  of  its  further  developments,  money-form,  capital-form,  &c. 
We  consequently  find  that  economists,  who  are  thoroughly  agreed  as  to  labour  time 
being  the  measure  of  the  magnitude  of  value,  have  the  most  strange  and  con- 
tradictory ideas  of  money,  the  perfected  form  of  the  general  equivalent.  This 
is  seen  in  a  striking  manner  when  they  treat  of  banking,  where  the  common- 
place definitions  of  money  will  no  longer  hold  water.  This  led  to  the  rise  of 
a  restored  mercantile  system  (Ganilh,  &c),  which  sees  in  value  nothing  but  a 
social  form,  or  rather  the  unsubstantial  ghost  of  that  form.  Once  for  all  I  may 
here  state,  that  by  classical  political  economy,  I  understand  that  economy  which, 
since  the  time  of  W.  Petty,  has  investigated  the  real  relations  of  production  in 
bourgeois  society,  in  contradistinction  to  vulgar  economy,  which  deals  with  appear- 
ances only,  ruminates  without  ceasing  on  the  materials  long  since  provided  by 
scientific  economy,  and  there  seeks  plausible  explanations  of  the  most  obtrusive 
phenomena,  for  bourgeois  daily  use,  but  for  the  rest,  confines  itself  to  systema- 
tizing in  a  pedantic  way,  and  proclaiming  for  everlasting  truths,  the  trite  ideas 
held  by  the  self-complacent  bourgeoisie  with  regard  to  their  own  world,  to  them 
the  best  of  all   possible   worlds. 

2  "The  economists  have  a  singular  manner  of  proceeding.  There  are  for  them 
only  two  kinds  of  institutions,  those  of  art  and  those  of  nature.  Feudal  institu- 
tions are  artificial  institutions,  those  of  the  bourgeoisie  are  natural  institutions. 
In  this  they  resemble  the  theologians,  who  also  establish  two  kinds  of  religion. 
Every  religion  but  their  own  is  an  invention  of  men,  while  their  own  religion  is 
an  emanation  from  God.  .  .  .  Thus  there  has  been  history,  but  there  is  no 
longer  any."  Karl  Marx,  The  Poverty  of  Philosophy,  A  Reply  to  'La  Philosophic 
de  la  Misere'  by  Mr.  Proudhon.  1847,  p.  100.  Truly  comical  is  M.  Bastiat,  who 
imagines  that  the  ancient  Greeks  and  Romans  lived  by  plunder  alone.  But  when 
people  plunder  for  centuries,  there  must  always  be  something  at  hand  for  them  ts 
seize;  the  objects  of  plunder  must  be  continually  reproduced.     It  would  thus  appear 

94  Capitalist  Production. 

To  what  extent  some  economists  are  misled  by  the  Fetishism 
inherent  in  commodities,  or  by  the  objective  appearance  of 
the  social  characteristics  of  labour,  is  shown,  amongst  other 
ways,  by  the  dull  and  tedious  quarrel  over  the  part  played  by 
Nature  in  the  formation  of  exchange  value.  Since  exchange 
value  is  a  definite  social  manner  of  expressing  the  amount  of 
labour  bestowed  upon  an  object,  Nature  has  no  more  to  do 
with  it,  than  it  has  in  fixing  the  course  of  exchange. 

The  mode  of  production  in  which  the  product  takes  the 
form  of  a  commodity,  or  is  produced  directly  for  exchange,  is 
the  most  general  and  most  embryonic  form  of  bourgeois  pro- 
duction. It  therefore  makes  its  appearance  at  an  early  date 
in  history,  though  not  in  the  same  predominating  and  charac- 
teristic manner  as  now-a-days.  Hence  its  Fetish  character  is 
comparatively  easy  to  be  seen  through.  But  when  we  come 
to  more  concrete  forms,  even  this  appearance  of  simplicity 
vanishes.  Whence  arose  the  illusions  of  the  monetary  sys- 
tem ?  To  it  gold  and  silver,  when  serving  as  money,  did  not 
represent  a  social  relation  between  producers,  but  were  nat- 

that  even  Greeks  and  Romans  had  some  process  of  production,  consequently,  an 
economy,  which  just  as  much  constituted  the  material  basis  of  their  world,  as  bour- 
geois economy  constitutes  that  of  our  modern  world.  Or  perhaps  Bastiat  means, 
that  a  mode  of  production  based  on  slavery  is  based  on  a  system  of  plunder.  In 
that  case  he  treads  on  dangerous  ground.  If  a  giant  thinker  like  Aristotle  erred  in 
his  appreciation  of  slave  labour,  why  should  a  dwarf  economist  like  Bastiat  be  right 
in  his  appreciation  of  wage  labour? — >I  seize  this  opportunity  of  shortly  answering 
an  objection  takeia  by  a  German  paper  in  America,  to  my  work,  "Critique  of 
Political  Economy,  1859."  In  the  estimation  of  that  paper,  my  view  that  each 
special  mode  of  production  and  the  social  relations  corresponding  to  it,  in  9hort, 
tbat  the  economic  structure  of  society,  is  the  real  basis  on  which  the  juridical 
and  political  superstructure  is  raised,  and  to  which  definite  social  forms  of 
thought  correspond;  that  the  mode  of  production  determines  the  character  of  the 
social,  political,  and  intellectual  life  generally,  all  this  is  very  true  for  our  own 
times,  in  which  material  interests  preponderate,  but  not  for  the  middle  ages,  in 
which  Catholicism,  nor  for  Athens  and  Rome,  where  politics,  reigned  supreme. 
In  the  first  place  it  strikes  one  as  an  odd  thing  for  any  one  to  suppose  that  these 
well-worn  phrases  about  the  middle  ages  and  the  ancient  world  are  unknown  to 
anyone  else.  This  much,  however,  is  clear,  that  the  middle  ages  could  not  live 
on  Catholicism,  nor  the  ancient  world  on  politics.  On  the  contrary,  it  is  the 
mode  in  which  they  gained  a  livelihood  that  explains  why  here  politics,  and 
there  Catholicism,  played  the  chief  part.  For  the  rest,  it  requires  but  a  slight 
acquaintance  with  the  history  of  the  Roman  republic,  for  example,  to  be 
aware  that  its  secret  history  is  the  history  of  its  landed  property.  On  the  other 
hand,  Don  Quixote  long  ago  paid  the  penalty  for  wrongly  imagining  that  knight 
Errantry   was   compatible  with   all   economical   forms   of   society. 

Commodities.  95 

ural  objects  with  strange  social  properties.  And  modern 
economy,  which  looks  down  with  such  disdain  on  the  monetary 
system,  does  not  its  superstition  come  out  as  clear  as  noon-day, 
whenever  it  treats  of  capital  ?  How  long  is  it  since  economy 
discarded  the  physiocratic  illusion,  that  rents  grow  out  of  the 
soil  and  not  out  of  society  ? 

But  not  to  anticipate,  we  will  content  ourselves  with  yet 
another  example  relating  to  the  commodity  form.  Could  com- 
modities themselves  speak,  they  would  say :  Our  use-value  may 
be  a  thing  that  interests  men.  It  is  no  part  of  us  as  objects. 
What,  however,  does  belong  to  us  as  objects,  is  our  value.  Our 
natural  intercourse  as  commodities  proves  it.  In  the  eyes  of 
each  other  we  are  nothing  but  exchange  values.  Now  listen 
how  those  commodities  speak  through  the  mouth  of  the  econo- 
mist. "Value" — (i.e.,  exchange  value)  "is  a  property  of  things, 
riches" — (i.e.,  use-value)  "of  man.  Value,  in  this  sense,  neces- 
sarily implies  exchanges,  riches  do  not." *  "Riches"  (use- 
value)  "are  the  attribute  of  men,  value  is  the  attribute  of  com- 
modities. A  man  or  a  community  is  rich,  a  pearl  or  a  dia- 
mond is  valuable.  .  .  A  pearl  or  a  diamond  is  valuable"  as  a 
pearl  or  diamond.2  So  far  no  chemist  has  ever  discovered  ex- 
change value  either  in  a  pearl  or  a  diamond.  The  economical 
discoverers  of  this  chemical  element,  who  by-the-bye  lay  special 
claim  to  critical  acumen,  find  however  that  the  use-value  of 
objects  belongs  to  them  independently  of  their  material  pro- 
perties, while  their  value,  on  the  other  hand,  forms  a  part  of 
them  as  objects.  What  confirms  them  in  this  view,  is  the 
peculiar  circumstances  that  the  use-value  of  objects  is  realised 
without  exchange,  by  means  of  a  direct  relation  between  the 

1  Observations  on  certain  verbal  disputes  in  Pol.  Econ.,  particularly  relating  to 
value  and  to  demand  and  supply.     Lond.,  1821,  p.  16. 

2S.    Bailey,    1.    c.,    p.    165. 

8  The  author  of  "  Observations  "  and  S.  Bailey  accuse  Ricardo  of  converting  ex- 
change value  from  something  relative  into  something  absolute.  The  opposite  is  the 
fact.  He  has  explained  the  apparent  relation  between  objects,  such  as  diamonds 
and  pearls,  in  which  relation  they  appear  as  exchange  values,  and  disclosed  the 
true  relation  hidden  behind  the  appearances,  namely,  their  relation  to  each  other 
as  mere  expressions  of  human  labour.  If  the  followers  of  Ricardo  answer  Bailey 
somewhat  rudely,  and  by  no  means  convincingly,  the  reason  is  to  be  sought  in 
this,  that  they  were  unable  to  find  in  Ricardo's  own  works  any  key  to  the  hidden 
relations  existing  between  value  and  its  form,  exchange  value. 

g6  Capitalist  Production. 

objects  and  man,  while,  on  the  other  hand,  their  value  is  real- 
ised only  by  exchange,  that  is,  by  means  of  a  social  process. 
Who  fails  here  to  call  to  mind  our  good  friend,  Dogberry,  who 
informs  neighbour  Seacoal,  that,  "To  be  a  well-favoured  man 
is  the  gift  of  fortune ;  but  reading  and  writing  comes  by 



It  is  plain  that  commodities  cannot  go  to  market  and  make 
exchanges  of  their  own  account.  We  must,  therefore,  have 
recourse  to  their  guardians,  who*  are  also  their  owners.  Com- 
modities are  things,  and  therefore  without  power  of  resistance 
against  man.  If  they  are  wanting  in  docility  he  can  use  force ; 
in  other  words,  he  can  take  possession  of  them.1  In  order  that 
these  objects  may  enter  into  relation  with  each  other  as  com- 
modities, their  guardians  must  place  themselves  in  relation 
to  one  another,  as  persons  whose  will  resides  in  those  objects, 
and  must  behave  in  such  a  way  that  each  does  not  appropriate 
the  commodity  of  the  other,  and  part  with  his  own,  except  by 
means  of  an  act  done  by  mutual  consent.  They  must,  there- 
fore, mutually  recognise  in  each  other  the  right  of  private 
proprietors.  This  juridical  relation,  which  thus  expresses  it- 
self in  a  contract,  whether  such  contract  be  part  of  a  developed 
legal  system  or  not,  is  a  relation  between  two  wills,  and  is  but 
the  reflex  of  the  real  economical  relation  between  the  two.  It 
is  this  economical  relation  that  determines  the  subject  matter 
comprised  in  each  such  juridical  act.2     The  persons  exist  for 

1  In  the  12th  century,  so  renowned  for  its  piety,  they  included  amongst  com- 
modities some  very  delicate  things.  Thus  a  French  poet  of  the  period  enumerates 
amongst  the  goods  to  be  fund  in  the  market  of  Landit,  not  only  clothing,  shoes, 
leather,    agricultural    implements,    &c,    but    also    "  femmes    folles    de    leur    corps." 

2  Proudhon  begins  by  taking  his  ideal  of  justice,  of  "justice  eternelle,"  from  th< 
juridical  relations  that  correspond  to  the  production  of  commodities:  thereby, 
it  may  be  noted,  he  proves,  to  the  consolation  of  all  good  citizens,  that  the 
production  of  commodities  is  «a  form  of  production  as  everlasting  as  justice. 
Then  he  turns  round  and  seeks  to  reform  the  actual  production  of  commodities, 
and   the   actual    legal   system   corresponding   thereto,    in   accordance    with   this    ideal. 

Exchange.  97 

one  another  merely  as  representatives  of,  and,  therefore,  as 
owners  of,  commodities.  In  the  course  of  our  investigation  we 
shall  find,  in  general,  that  the  characters  who  appear  on  the 
economic  stage  are  but  the  personifications  of  the  economical 
relations  that  exist  between  them. 

What  chiefly  distinguishes  a  commodity  from  its  owner  is 
the  fact,  that  it  looks  upon  every  other  commodity  as  but  the 
form  of  appearance  of  its  own  value.  A  born  leveller  and  a 
cynic,  it  is  always  ready  to  exchange  not  only  soul,  but  body, 
with  any  and  every  other  commodity,  be  the  same  more  repul- 
sive than  Maritornes  herself.  The  owner  makes  up  for  this 
lack  in  the  commodity  of  a  sense  of  the  concrete,  by  his  own 
five  and  more  senses.  His  commodity  possesses  for  himself  no 
immediate  use-value.  Otherwise,  he  would  not  bring  it  to  the 
market  It  has  use-value  for  others;  but  for  himself  its  only 
direct  use-value  is  that  of  being  a  depository  of  exchange 
value,  and  consequently,  a  means  of  exchange.1  Therefore, 
he  makes  up  his  mind  to  part  with  it  for  commodities  whose 
value  in  use  is  of  service  to  him.  All  commodities  are  non-use- 
values  for  their  owners,  and  use-values  for  their  non-owners. 
Consequently,  they  must  all  change  hands.  But  this  change 
of  hands  is  what  constitutes  their  exchange,  and  the  latter 
puts  them  in  relation  with  each  other  as  values,  and  realises 
them  as  values.  Hence  commodities  must  be  realised  as  values 
before  they  can  be  realised  as  use-values. 

On  the  other  hand,  they  must  show  that  they  are  use- 
values  before  they  can  be  realised  as  values.  For  the  labour 
spent  upon  them  counts  effectively,  only  in  so  far  as  it  is  spent 

What  opinion  should  we  have  of  a  chemist,  who,  instead  of  studying  the  actual 
laws  of  the  molecular  changes  in  the  composition  and  decomposition  of  matter,  and 
on  that  foundation  solving  definite  problems,  claimed  to  regulate  the  composition 
and  decomposition  of  matter  by  means  of  the  "eternal  ideas,"  of  "naturalite" 
and  "affinite?"  Do  we  really  know  any  more  about  "usury,"  when  we  say  it 
contradicts  "justice  eternelle,"  "equite  eternelle,"  "mutualite  eternelle,"  and  other 
"verites  eternelles"  than  the  fathers  of  the  church  did  when  they  said  it  was  incom- 
patible with  "grace  eternelle,"  "foi  eternelle,"  and  "la  volonte  eternelle  de  Dieu?" 

1  "  For  two-fold  is  the  use  of  every  object.  .  .  .  The  one  is  peculiar  to  the 
object  as  such,  the  other  is  not,  as  a  sandal  which  may  be  worn,  and  is  also  ex- 
changeable. Both  are  uses  of  the  sandal,  for  even  he  who  exchanges  the  sandal  for 
the  money  or  food  he  is  in  want  of,  makes  use  of  the  sandal  as  a  sandal.  But  not 
in  its  natural  way.  For  it  has  not  been  made  for  the  sake  of  being  exchanged." 
(Aristoteles,  de  Rep.,  1.   i.   c.   9.) 


98  Capitalist  Production. 

in  a  form  that  is  useful  for  others.  Whether  that  labour  is  use- 
ful for  others  and  its  product  consequently  capable  of  satisfying 
the  wants  of  others,  can  be  proved  only  by  the  act  of  exchange. 

Every  owner  of  a  commodity  wishes  to  part  with  it  in  ex- 
change only  for  those  commodities  whose  use-value  satisfies 
some  want  of  his.  Looked  at  in  this  way,  exchange  is  for 
him  simply  a  private  transaction.  On  the  other  hand,  he  de- 
sires to  realise  the  value  of  his  commodity,  to  convert  it  into 
any  other  suitable  commodity  of  equal  value,  irrespective  of 
whether  his  own  commodity  has  or  has  not  any  use-value  for 
the  owner  of  the  other.  From  this  point  of  view,  exchange  i9 
for  him  a  social  transaction  of  a  general  character.  But  one 
and  the  same  set  of  transactions  cannot  be  simultaneously  for 
all  owners  of  commodities  both  exclusively  private  and  ex- 
clusively social  and  general. 

Let  us  look  at  the  matter  a  little  closer.  To  the  owner  of  a 
commodity,  every  other  commodity  is,  in  regard  to  his  own,  a 
particular  equivalent,  and  consequently  his  own  commodity  is 
the  universal  equivalent  for  all  the  others.  But  since  this 
applies  to  every  owner,  there  is,  in  fact,  no  commodity  acting 
as  universal  equivalent,  and  the  relative  value  of  commodities 
possesses  no  general  form  under  which  they  can  be  equated  as 
values  and  have  the  magnitude  of  their  values  compared.  So 
far,  therefore,  they  do  not  confront  each  other  as  commodities, 
but  only  as  products  or  use-values.  In  their  difficulties  our 
commodity-owners  think  like  Faust:  "Im  Anfang  war  die 
That."  They  therefore  acted  and  transacted  before  they 
thought.  Instinctively  they  conform  to  the  laws  imposed  by 
the  nature  of  commodities.  They  cannot  bring  their  com- 
modities into  relation  as  values,  and  therefore  as  commodities, 
except  by  comparing  them  with  some  one  other  commodity 
as  the  universal  equivalent.  That  we  saw  from  the  analysis 
of  a  commodity.  But  a  particular  commodity  cannot  become 
the  universal  equivalent  except  by  a  social  act.  The  social 
action  therefore  of  all  other  commodities,  sets  apart  the  par- 
ticular commodity  in  which  they  all  represent  their  values. 
Thereby  the  bodily  form  of  this  commodity  becomes  the  form 
of  the  socially   recognised  universal  equivalent.     To  be   the 

Exchange.  99 

universal  equivalent,  becomes,  by  this  social  process,  the 
specific  function  of  the  commodity  thus  excluded  by  the  rest. 
Thus  it  becomes — money.  "Illi  unum  consilium  habent  et 
virtutem  et  potestatem  suam  bestise  tradunt.  Et  ne  quis 
possit  emere  aut  vendere,  nisi  qui  habet  charaeterem  aut 
nomen  bestise,  aut  numerum  nominis  ejus."      (Apocalypse.) 

Money  is  a  crystal  formed  of  necessity  in  the  course  of  the 
exchanges,  whereby  different  products  of  labour  are  practically 
equated  to  one  another  and  thus  by  practice  converted  into 
commodities.  The  historical  progress  and  extension  of  ex- 
changes develops  the  contrast,  latent  in  commodities,  between 
use-value  and  value.  The  necessity  for  giving  an  external 
expression  to  this  contrast  for  the  purposes  of  commercial  in- 
tercourse, urges  on  the  establishment  of  an  independent  form 
of  value,  and  finds  no  rest  until  it  is  once  for  all  satisfied  by 
the  differentiation  of  commodities  into  commodities  and  money. 
At  the  same  rate,  then,  as  the  conversion  of  products  into 
commodities  is  being  accomplished,  so  also  is  the  conversion  of 
one  special  commodity  into  money.1 

The  direct  barter  of  products  attains  the  elementary  form 
of  the  relative  expression  of  value  in  one  respect,  but  not  in 
another.  That  form  is  x  Commodity  A=y  Commodity  B. 
The  form  of  direct  barter  is  x  use-value  A=y  use-value  B.2 
The  articles  A  and  B  in  this  case  are  not  as  yet  commodities, 
but  become  so  only  by  the  act  of  barter.  The  first  step  made 
by  an  object  of  utility  towards  acquiring  exchange-value 
is  when  it  forms  a  non-use-value  for  its  owner,  and  that  hap- 
pens when  it  forms  a  superfluous  portion  of  some  article 
required  for  his  immediate  wants.  Objects  in  themselves  are 
external  to  man,  and  consequently  alienable  by  him.  In  order 
that  this  alienation  may  be  reciprocal,  it  is  only  necessary  for 

1  From  this  we  may  form  an  estimate  of  the  shrewdness  of  the  petit-bourgeois 
socialism,  which,  while  perpetuating  the  production  of  commodities,  aims  at 
abolishing  the  "  antagonism  "  between  money  and  commodities,  and  consequently, 
since  money  exists  only  by  virtue  of  this  antagonism,  at  abolishing  money  itself. 
We  might  just  as  well  try  to  retain  Catholicism  without  the  Pope.  For  more 
on  this  point  see  my  work,   "Critique  of  Political   Economy,"   p.   73,   ff. 

2  So  long  as,  instead  of  two  distinct  use-values  being  exchanged,  a  chaotic  mass 
of  articles  are  offered  as  the  equivalent  of  a  single  article,  which  is  often  the  case 
with  savages,  even  the  direct  barter  of  products  is  in  its  first  infancy. 

100  Capitalist  Production. 

men,  by  a  tacit  understanding,  to  treat  each  other  as  private 
owners  of  those  alienable  objects,  and  by  implication  as  inde- 
pendent individuals.  But  such  a  state  of  reciprocal  indepen- 
dence has  no  existence  in  a  primitive  society  based  on  pro- 
perty in  common,  whether  such  a  society  takes  the  form  of  a 
patriarchal  family,  an  ancient  Indian  community,  or  a  Peru- 
vian Inca  State.  The  exchange  of  commodities,  therefore,  first 
begins  on  the  boundaries  of  such  communities,  at  their  points 
of  contact  with  other  similar  communities,  or  with  members  of 
the  latter.  So  soon,  however,  as  products  once  become  com- 
modities in  the  external  relations  of  a  community,  they  also, 
by  reaction,  become  so  in  its  internal  intercourse.  The  pro- 
portions in  which  they  are  exchangeable  are  at  first  quite  a 
matter  of  chance.  What  makes  them  exchangeable  is  the 
mutual  desire  of  their  owners  to  alienate  them.  Meantime  the 
need  for  foreign  objects  of  utility  gradually  establishes  itself. 
The  constant  repetition  of  exchange  makes  it  a  normal  social 
act.  In  the  course  of  time,  therefore,  some  portion  at  least  of 
the  products  of  labour  must  be  produced  with  a  special  view 
to  exchange.  From  that  moment  the  distinction  becomes 
firmly  established  between  the  utility  of  an  object  for  the  pur- 
poses of  consumption,  and  its  utility  for  the  purposes  of  ex- 
change. Its  use-value  becomes  distinguished  from  its  ex- 
change value.  On  the  other  hand,  the  quantitative  proportion 
in  which  the  articles  are  exchangeable,  becomes  dependent  on 
their  production  itself.  Custom  stamps  them  as  values  with 
definite  magnitudes. 

In  the  direct  barter  of  products,  each  commodity  is  directly 
a  means  of  exchange  to  its  owner,  and  to  all  other  persons  an 
equivalent,  but  that  only  in  so  far  as  it  has  use-value  for  them. 
At  this  stage,  therefore,  the  articles  exchanged  do  not  acquire 
a  value-form  independent  of  their  own  use-value,  or  of  the 
individual  needs  of  the  exchangers.  The  necessity  for  a  value- 
form  grows  with  the  increasing  number  and  variety  of  the 
commodities  exchanged.  The  problem  and  the  means  of  solu- 
tion arise  simultaneously.  Commodity-owners  never  equate 
their  own  commodities  to  those  of  others,  and  exchange  them 
on  a  large  scale,  without  different  kinds  of  commodities  belong- 

Exchange.  101 

ing  to  different  owners  being  exchangeable  for,  and  equated  as 
values  to,  one  and  the  same  special  article.  Such  last-men- 
tioned article,  by  becoming  the  equivalent  of  various  other 
commodities,  acquires  at  once,  though  within  narrow  limits, 
the  character  of  a  general  social  equivalent.  This  character 
comes  and  goes  with  the  momentary  social  acts  that  called  it 
into  life.  In  turns  and  transiently  it  attaches  itself  first  to  this 
and  then  to  that  commodity.  But  with  the  development  of 
exchange  it  fixes  itself  firmly  and  exclusively  to  particular 
sorts  of  commodities,  and  becomes  crystallised  by  assuming  the 
money-form.  The  particular  kind  of  commodity  to  which  it 
sticks  is  at  first  a  matter  of  accident.  Nevertheless  there  are 
two  circumstances  whose  influence  is  decisive.  The  money- 
form  attaches  itself  either  to  the  most  important  articles  of  ex- 
change from  outside,  and  these  in  fact  are  primitive  and  nat- 
ural forms  in  which  the  exchange-value  of  home  products  finds 
expression;  or  else  it  attaches  itself  to  the  object  of  utility 
that  forms,  like  cattle,  the  chief  portion  of  indigenous  alienable 
wealth.  Nomad  races  are  the  first  to  develop  the  money-form, 
because  all  their  worldly  goods  consist  of  movable  objects 
and  are  therefore  directly  alienable ;  and  because  their  mode  of 
life,  by  continually  bringing  them  into  contact  with  foreign 
communities,  solicits  the  exchange  of  products.  Man  has  often 
made  man  himself,  under  the  form  of  slaves,  serve  as  the  prim- 
itive material  of  money,  but  has  never  used  land  for  that 
purpose.  Such  an  idea  could  only  spring  up  in  a  bourgeois 
society  already  well  developed.  It  dates  from  the  last  third  of 
the  17th  century,  and  the  first  attempt  to  put  it  in  practice  on  a 
national  scale  was  made  a  century  afterwards,  during  the 
French  bourgeois  revolution. 

In  proportion  as  exchange  bursts  its  local  bonds,  and  the 
value  of  commodities  more  and  more  expands  into  an  embodi- 
ment of  human  labour  in  the  abstract,  in  the  same  proportion 
the  character  of  money  attaches  itself  to  commodities  that  are 
by  nature  fitted  to  perform  the  social  function  of  a  universal 
equivalent.     Those  commodities  are  the  precious  metals. 

The  truth  of  the  proposition  that,  "although  gold  and  silver 
are   not  by   nature   money,    money   is   by   nature   gold    and 

102  Capitalist  Production. 

silver,"  *  is  shown  by  the  fitness  of  the  physical  properties  of 
these  metals  for  the  functions  of  money.2  Up  to  this  point, 
however,  we  are  acquainted  only  with  one  function  of  money, 
namely,  to  serve  as  the  form  of  manifestation  of  the  value  of 
commodities,  or  as  the  material  in  which  the  magnitudes  of 
their  values  are  socially  expressed.  An  adequate  form  of 
manifestation  of  value,  a  fit  embodiment  of  abstract,  undiffer- 
entiated, and  therefore  equal  human  labour,  that  material 
alone  can  be  whose  every  sample  exhibits  the  same  uniform 
qualities.  On  the  other  hand,  since  the  difference  between  the 
magnitudes  of  value  is  purely  quantitative,  the  money  com- 
modity must  be  susceptible  of  merely  quantitative  differences, 
must  therefore  be  divisible  at  will,  and  equally  capable  of  being 
re-united.     Gold  and  silver  possess  these  properties  by  nature. 

The  use-value  of  the  money  commodity  becomes  twofold. 
In  addition  to  its  special  use-value  as  a  commodity  (gold, 
for  instance,  serving  to  stop  teeth,  to  form  the  raw  material  of 
articles  of  luxury,  &c.),  it  acquires  a  formal  use-value,  origina- 
ting in  its  specific  social  function. 

Since  all  commodities  are  merely  particular  equivalents  of 
money,  the  latter  being  their  universal  equivalent,  they,  with 
regard  to  the  latter  as  the  universal  commodity,  play  the  parts 
of  particular  commodities.3 

We  have  seen  that  the  money-form  is  but  the  reflex,  thrown 
upon  one  single  commodity,  of  the  value  relations  between  all 
the  rest.     That  money  is  a  commodity  4  is  therefore  a  new  dis- 

*Karl  Marx,  1.  c.  p.  212.  "I  metalli.  .  .  naturalmente  moneta,"  (Galiani. 
"Delia    moneta"    in    Custodi's    Collection:     Parte    Moderna    t.    iii.). 

2  For  further  details  on  this  subject  see  in  my  work  cited  above,  the  chapter  on 
"  The    precious     metals." 

8  "II    danaro   e   la   merce   universale    (Verri,   1.    c,   p.    16). 

4  "Silver  and  gold  themselves  (which  we  may  call  by  the  general  name  of 
bullion),  are  .  .  .  commodities  .  .  .  rising  and  falling  in  .  .  .  value.  .  .  Bullion, 
then,  may  be  reckoned  to  be  of  higher  value  where  the  smaller  weight  will  purchase 
the  greatest  quantity  of  the  product  or  manufacture  of  the  countrey,"  &c.  ("A 
Discourse  of  the  General  Notions  of  Money,  Trade,  and  Exchange,  as  they  stand 
in  relations  to  each  other."  By  a  Merchant.  Lond.,  1G95,  p.  7.)  "Silver  and 
gold,  coined  or  uncoined,  though  they  are  used  for  a  measure  of  all  other  things, 
are  no  less  a  commodity  than  wine,  oyl,  tobacco,  cloth,  or  stuffs."  ("  A  Discourse 
concerning  Trade,  and  that  in  particular  of  the  East  Indies,"  &c.  London,  1C89, 
p.  2.)  "The  stock  and  riches  of  the  kingdom  cannot  properly  be  confined  to 
money,   nor   ought   gold  and  silver  to   be  excluded    from   being  merchandize."     ("A 

Exchange.  103 

covery  only  for  those  who,  when  they  analyse  it,  start  from  its 
fully  developed  shape.  The  act  of  exchange  gives  to  the  com- 
modity converted  into  money,  not  its  value,  but  its  specific 
value-form.  By  confounding  these  two  distinct  things  some 
writers  have  been  led  to  hold  that  the  value  of  gold  and  silver 
is  imaginary.1  The  fact  that  money  can,  in  certain  functions, 
be  replaced  by  mere  symbols  of  itself,  gave  rise  to  that  other 
mistaken  notion,  that  it  is  itself  a  mere  symbol.  Nevertheless 
under  this  error  lurked  a  presentiment  that  the  money-form  of 
an  object  is  not  an  inseparable  part  of  that  object,  but  is  simply 
the  form  under  which  certain  social  relations  manifest  them- 
selves. In  this  sense  every  commodity  is  a  symbol,  since,  in  so 
far  as  it  is  value,  it  is  only  the  material  envelope  of  the  human 
labour  spent  upon  it.2  But  if  it  be  declared  that  the  social 
characters  assumed  by  objects,  or  the  material  forms  assumed 
by  the  social  qualities  of  labour  under  the  regime  of  a  definite 
mode  of  production,  are  mere  symbols,  it  is  in  the  same  breath 
also  declared  that  these  characteristics  are  arbitrary  fictions 
sanctioned  by  the  so-called  universal  consent  of  mankind.     This 

Treatise  concerning  the  East  India  Trade  being  a  most  profitable  Trade."  Lon- 
don,  16S0,   Reprint   1696,   p.    4.) 

1  "L'oro  e  l'argento  hanno  valore  come  metalli  anteriore  all'  esser  moneta." 
(Galiani,  I.e.).  Locke  says,  "The  universal  consent  of  mankind  gave  to  silver,  on 
account  of  its  qualities  which  made  it  suitable  for  money,  an.  imaginary  value." 
Law,  on  the  other  hand,  "  How  could  different  nations  give  an  imaginary  value 
to  any  single  thing  ...  or  how  could  this  imaginary  value  have  maintained  itself?" 
But  the  following  shows  how  little  he  himself  understood  about  the  matter:  "Sil- 
ver was  exchanged  in  proportion  to  the  value  in  use  it  possessed,  consequently  in 
proportion  to  its  real  value.  By  its  adoption  as  money  it  received  an  additional 
value  (une  valeur  additionelle)"  (Jean  Law:  "Considerations  sur  le  numeraire 
et  le  commerce"  in  E.  Daire's  Edit,  of  "Economistes  Financiers  du  XVIII.  siecle.," 
p.    470). 

2  L' Argent  en  (des  denrees)  est  le  signe."  (V.  de  Forbonnais:  "Elements  du 
Commerce,  Nouv.  Edit.  Leyde,  1776,"  t.  II.,  p.  143.)  "Comme  signe  il  est  attire 
par  les  denrees."  (I.e.,  p.  155).  "  L'argent  est  un  signe  d'une  chose  et  la 
represente."  (Montesquieu:  "Esprit  des  Lois,"  Oeuvres,  Lond.  1767,  t.  II.,  p.  2.) 
"L'argent  n'est  pas  simple  signe,  car  il  est  lui-meme  richesse;  il  ne  represente 
pas  les  valeurs,  il  les  equivaut."  (Le  Trosne,  I.e.,  p.  910.)  "The  notion  of  value 
contemplates  the  valuable  article  as  a  mere  symbol;  the  article  counts  not  for  what 
it  is,  but  for  what  it  is  worth."  (Hegel,  I.e.,  p.  100.)  Lawyers  started  long 
before  economists  the  idea  that  money  is  a  mere  symbol,  and  that  the  value  of  the 
precious  metals  is  purely  imaginary.  This  they  did  in  the  sycophantic  service  of 
the  crowned  heads,  supporting  the  right  of  the  latter  to  debase  the  coinage,  during 
the  whole  of  the  middle  ages,  by  the  traditions  of  the  Roman  Empire  and  the 
conceptions  of  money  to  be  found  in  the  Pandects.  "Qu'  aucun  puisse  ni  doive 
faire  doute,"  says  an  apt  scholar  of  theirs,  Philip  of  Valois,  in  a  decree  of 
1316,    "  que   a.    nous    et    a    notre    majeste    royale   n'    appartiennent    seulement.  .  .  le 

104  Capitalist  Production. 

suited  the  mode  of  explanation  in  favour  during  the  18th 
century.  Unable  to  account  for  the  origin  of  the  puzzling 
forms  assumed  by  social  relations  between  man  and  man,  peo- 
ple sought  to  denude  them  of  their  strange  appearance  by 
ascribing  to  them  a  conventional  origin. 

It  has  already  been  remarked  above  that  the  equivalent  form 
of  a  commodity  does  not  imply  the  determination  of  the  magni- 
tude of  its  value.  Therefore,  although  we  may  be  aware  that 
gold  is  money,  and  consequently  directly  exchangeable  for  all 
other  commodities,  yet  that  fact  by  no  means  tells  how  much 
10  lbs.,  for  instance,  of  gold  is  worth.  Money,  like  every  other 
commodity,  cannot  express  the  magnitude  of  its  value  except 
relatively  in  other  commodities.  This  value  is  determined  by 
the  labour-time  required  for  its  production,  and  is  expressed  by 
the  quantity  of  any  other  commodity  that  costs  the  same 
amount  of  labour-time.1  Such  quantitative  determination  of 
its  relative  value  takes  place  at  the  source  of  its  production  by 
means  of  barter.  When  it  steps  into  circulation  as  money,  its 
value  is  already  given.  In  the  last  decades  of  the  17th  cen- 
tury it  had  already  been  shown  that  money  is  a  commodity, 
but  this  step  marks  only  the  infancy  of  the  analysis.  The 
difficulty  lies,  not  in  comprehending  that  money  is  a  commo- 
dity, but  in  discovering  how,  why  and  by  what  means  a  com- 
modity becomes  money.2 

mestier,  le  fait,  1'etat,  la  provision  et  toute  l'ordonnance  des  monnaies,  de  dormer 
tel  cours,  et  pour  tel  prix  comme  il  nous  plait  et  bon  nous  semble."  It  was 
a  maxim  of  the  Roman  Law  that  the  value  of  money  was  fixed  by  decree  of  the 
emperor.  It  was  expressly  forbidden  to  treat  money  as  a  commodity.  "  Pecunias 
vero  nulli  emere  fas  erit,  nam  in  usu  publico  constitutas  oportet  non  esse 
mercem."  Some  good  work  on  this  question  has  been  done  by  G.  F.  Pagnini: 
"Saggio  sopra  il  giusto  pregio  delle  cose,  1751";  Custodi  "Parte  Moderna,"  t. 
II.  In  the  second  part  of  his  work  Pagnini  directs  his  polemics  especially  against 
the  lawyers. 

1 "  If  a  man  can  bring  to  London  an  ounce  of  Silver  out  of  the  Earth  in 
Peru,  in  the  same  time  that  he  can  produce  a  bushel  of  Corn,  then  the  one  is  the 
natural  price  of  the  other;  now,  if  by  reason  of  new  or  more  easie  mines  a  man 
can  procure  two  ounces  of  silver  as  easily  as  he  formerly  did  one,  the  corn  will 
be  as  cheap  at  ten  shillings  the  bushel  as  it  was  before  at  five  shillings,  caeteris 
paribus."  William  Petty:  "A  Treatise  on  Taxes  and  Contributions."  Lond.,  1662, 
p.    32. 

2  The  learned  Professor  Roscher,  after  first  informing  us  that  "  the  false  defini- 
tions of  money  may  be  divided  into  two  main  groups:  those  which  make  it  more, 
and  those  which  make  it  less,  than  a  commodity,"  gives  us  a  long  and  very  mixed 
catalogue   of   works   on   the  nature   of   money,    from   which   it   appears   that   he   ha9 

Exchange.  105 

We  have  already  seen,  from  the  most  elementary  expres- 
sion of  value,  x  commodity  A=y  commodity  B,  that  the  object 
in  which  the  magnitude  of  the  value  of  another  object  is  repre- 
sented, appears  to  have  the  equivalent  form  independently  of 
this  relation,  as  a  social  property  given  to  it  by  Nature.  We 
followed  up  this  false  appearance  to  its  final  establishment, 
which  is  complete  so  soon  as  the  universal  equivalent  form 
becomes  identified  with  the  bodily  form  of  a  particular  com- 
modity, and  thus  crystallised  into  the  money-form.  What 
appears  to  happen  is,  not  that  gold  becomes  money,  in  conse- 
quence of  all  other  commodities  expressing  their  values  in  it, 
but,  on  the  contrary,  that  all  other  commodities  universally 
express  their  values  in  gold,  because  it  is  money.  The  inter- 
mediate steps  of  the  process  vanish  in  the  result  and  leave  no 
trace  behind.  Commodities  find  their  own  value  already  com- 
pletely represented,  without  any  initiative  on  their  part,  in 
another  commodity  existing  in  company  with  them.  These 
objects,  gold  and  silver,  just  as  they  come  out  of  the  bowels  of 
the  earth,  are  forthwith  the  direct  incarnation  of  all  human 
labour.  Hence  the  magic  of  money.  In  the  form  of  society 
now  under  consideration,  the  behaviour  of  men  in  the  social 
process  of  production  is  purely  atomic.  Hence  their  relations 
to  each  other  in  production  assume  a  material  character  inde- 
pendent of  their  control  and  conscious  individual  action. 
These  facts  manifest  themselves  at  first  by  products  as  a  gen- 
eral rule  taking  the  form  of  commodities.  We  have  seen  how 
the  progressive  development  of  a  society  of  commodity-pro- 
ducers stamps  one  privileged  commodity  with  the  character  of 
money.     Hence  the  riddle  presented  by  money  is  but  the  riddle 

not  the  remotest  idea  of  the  real  history  of  the  theory;  and  then  he  moralises 
thus:  "  For  the  rest,  it  is  not  to  be  denied  that  most  of  the  later  economists  do  not 
bear  sufficiently  in  mind  the  peculiarities  that  distinguish  money  from  other  com- 
modities" (it  is  then,  after  all,  either  more  or  less  than  a  commodity!)  .  .  .  "So 
far,  the  semi-mercantilist  reaction  of  Ganilh  is  not  altogether  without  foundation." 
(Wilhelm  Roscher:  "Die  Grundlagen  der  Nationaloekonomie,"  3rd  Edn.,  1858,  pp. 
277-210)  More!  less!  not  sufficiently!  so  far!  not  altogether!  What  clearness  and 
precision  of  ideas  and  language!  And  such  eclectic  professorial  twaddle  is  mod' 
estly  baptised  by  Mr.  Roscher,  "  the  anatomico-physiological  method  "  of  political 
economy!  One  discovery  however,  he  must  have  credit  for,  namely,  that  money  is 
"a  pleasant  commodity." 

106  Capitalist  Production. 

presented  by  commodities ;  only  it  now  strikes  us  in  its  most 
glaring  form. 



Throughout  this  work,  I  assume,  for  the  sake  of  simplicity, 
gold  as  the  money-commodity. 

The  first  chief  function  of  money  is  to  supply  commodities 
with  the  material  for  the  expression  of  their  values,  or  to  re- 
present their  values  as  magnitudes  of  the  same  denomination, 
qualitatively  equal,  and  quantitatively  comparable.  It  thus 
serves  as  a  universal  measure  of  value.  And  only  by  virtue  of 
this  function  does  gold,  the  equivalent  commodity  par  excel- 
lence, become  money. 

It  is  not  money  that  renders  commodities  commensurable. 
Just  the  contrary.  It  is  because  all  commodities,  as  values,  are 
realised  human  labour,  and  therefore  commensurable,  that 
their  values  can  be  measured  by  one  and  the  same  special  com- 
modity, and  the  latter  be  converted  into  the  common  measure 
of  their  values,  i.e.,  into  money.  Money  as  a  measure  of 
value,  is  the  phenomenal  form  that  must  of  necessity  be  as- 
sumed by  that  measure  of  value  which  is  immanent  in  com- 
modities, labour-time.1 

The  expression  of  the  value  of  a  commodity  in  gold — x 

1  The  question  —  Why  does  not  money  directly  represent  labour-time,  so  that  a 
piece  of  paper  may  represent,  for  instance,  x  hour's  labour,  is  at  bottom  the  same 
as  the  question  why,  given  the  production  of  commodities,  must  products  take  the 
form  of  commodities?  This  is  evident,  since  their  taking  the  form  of  commodities 
implies  their  differentiation  into  commodities  and  money.  Or,  why  cannot  pri- 
vate labour — labour  for  the  account  of  private  individuals — be  treated  as  its  oppo- 
site, immediate  social  labour?  I  have  elsewhere  examined  thoroughly  the  Utopian 
idea  of  "labour-money"  in  a  society  founded  on  the  production  of  commodities 
(1.  c,  p.  61,  seq.)-  On  this  point  I  will  only  say  further,  that  Owen's  "  labour- 
money,"  for  instance,  is  no  more  "money"  than  a  ticket  for  the  theatre.  Owen 
presupposes  directly  associated  labour,  a  form  of  production  that  is  entirely  in- 
consistent with  the  production  of  commodities.  The  certificate  of  labour  is  merely 
evidence  of  the  part  taken  by  the  individual  in  the  common  labour,  and  of  his 
right  to  a  certain  portion  of  the  common  produce  destined  for  consumption.  But 
it  never  enters  into  Owen's  head  to  presuppose  the  production  of  commodities, 
and  at  the  same  time,  by  juggling  with  money,  to  try  to  evade  the  necessary  con- 
ditions of  that  production. 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.        107 

commodity  A=y  money-commodity — is  its  money-form  or 
price.  A  single  equation,  such  as  1  ton  of  iron=2  ounces  of 
gold,  now  suffices  to  express  the  value  of  the  iron  in  a  socially 
valid  manner.  There  is  no  longer  any  need  for  this  equation 
to  figure  as  a  link  in  the  chain  of  equations  that  express  the 
values  of  all  other  commodities,  because  the  equivalent  com- 
modity, gold,  now  has  the  character  of  money.  The  general 
form  of  relative  value  has  resumed  its  original  shape  of  simple 
or  isolated  relative  value.  On  the  other  hand,  the  expanded 
expression  of  relative  value,  the  endless  series  of  equations,  has 
now  become  the  form  peculiar  to  the  relative  value  of  the 
money-commodity.  The  series  itself,  too,  is  now  given,  and 
has  social  recognition  in  the  prices  of  actual  commodities.  We 
have  only  to  read  the  quotations  of  a  price-list  backwards,  to 
find  the  magnitude  of  the  value  of  money  expressed  in  all  sorts 
of  commodities.  But  money  itself  has  no  price.  In  order  to 
put  it  on  an  equal  footing  with  all  other  commodities  in  this 
respect,  we  should  be  obliged  to  equate  it  to  itself  as  its  own 

The  price  or  money-form  of  commodities  is,  like  their  form 
of  value  generally,  a  form  quite  distinct  from  their  palpable 
bodily  form ;  it  is,  therefore,  a  purely  ideal  or  mental  form. 
Although  invisible,  the  value  of  iron,  linen  and  corn  has  actual 
existence  in  these  very  articles :  it  is  ideally  made  perceptible 
by  their  equality  with  gold,  a  relation  that,  so  to  say,  exists 
only  in  their  own  heads.  Their  owner  must,  therefore,  lend 
them  his  tongue,  or  hang  a  ticket  on  them,  before  their  prices 
can  be  communicated  to  the  outside  world.1  Since  the  ex- 
pression of  the  value  of  commodities  in  gold  is  a  merely  ideal 

1  Savages  and  half-civilised  races  use  the  tong  differently.  Captain  Parry  says 
of  the  inhabitants  on  the  west  coast  of  Baffin's  Bay:  "In  this  case  (he  refers  to 
barter)  they  licked  it  (the  thing  represented  to  them)  twice  to  their  tongues,  after 
which  they  seemed  to  consider  the  bargain  satisfactorily  concluded."  In  the  same 
way,  the  Eastern  Esquimaux  licked  the  articles  they  received  in  exchange.  If  the 
tongue  is  thus  used  in  the  North  as  the  organ  of  appropriation,  no  wonder  that,  in 
the  South,  the  stomach  serves  as  the  organ  of  accumulated  property,  and  that  a 
Kaffir  estimates  the  wealth  of  a  man  by  the  size  of  his  belly.  That  the  Kaffirs 
know  what  they  are  about  is  shown  by  the  following:  at  the  same  time  that  the 
official  British  Health  Report  of  1864  disclosed  the  deficiency  of  fat-forming  food 
among  a  large  part  of  the  working  class,  a  certain  Dr.  Harvey  (not,  however,  the 
celebrated  discoverer  of  the  circulation  of  the  blood),  made  a  good  thing  by  adver- 
tising recipes  for  reducing  the  superfluous  fat  of  the  bourgeoisie  and  aristocracy. 

lo8  Capitalist  Production. 

act,  we  may  use  for  this  purpose  imaginary  or  ideal  money. 
Every  trader  knows,  that  he  is  far  from  having  turned  his 
goods  into  money,  when  he  has  expressed  their  value  in  a  price 
or  in  imaginary  money,  and  that  it  does  not  require  the  least 
bit  of  real  gold,  to  estimate  in  that  metal  millions  of  pounds' 
worth  of  goods.  When,  therefore,  money  serves  as  a  measure 
of  value,  it  is  employed  only  as  imaginary  or  ideal  money. 
This  circumstance  has  given  rise  to  the  wildest  theories.1  But, 
although  the  money  that  performs  the  functions  of  a  measure 
of  value  is  only  ideal  money,  price  depends  entirely  upon  the 
actual  substance  that  is  money.  The  value,  or  in  other  words, 
the  quantity  of  human  labour  contained  in  a  ton  of  iron,  is 
expressed  in  imagination  by  such  a  quantity  of  the  money- 
commodity  as  contains  the  same  amount  of  labour  as  the  iron. 
According,  therefore,  as  the  measure  of  value  is  gold,  silver,  or 
copper,  the  value  of  the  ton  of  iron  will  be  expressed  by  very 
different  prices,  or  will  be  represented  by  very  different  quan- 
tities of  those  metals  respectively. 

If,  therefore,  two  different  commodities,  such  as  gold  and 
silver,  are  simultaneously  measures  of  value,  all  commodities 
have  two  prices. — one  a  gold-price,  the  other  a  silver-price. 
These  exist  quietly  side  by  side,  so  long  as  the  ratio  of  the 
value  of  silver  to  that  of  gold  remains  unchanged,  say,  at  15  : 1. 
Every  change  in  their  ratio  disturbs  the  ratio  which  exists 
between  the  gold-prices  and  the  silver-prices  of  commodities, 
and  thus  proves,  by  facts,  that  a  double  standard  of  value  is 
inconsistent  with  the  functions  of  a  standard.2 

1See  Karl  Marx:  "Critique,  etc.,  chapter  II.  B.,  Theories  of  the  Unit  of  Meas- 
ure of  Money,"   p.   91,   ff. 

2  "  Wherever  gold  and  silver  have  by  law  been  made  to  perform  the  function  of 
money  or  of  a  measure  of  value  side  by  side,  it  has  always  been  tried,  but  in 
vain,  to  treat  them  as  one  and  the  same  material.  To  assume  that  there  is  an 
invariable  ratio  between  the  quantities  of  gold  and  silver  in  which  a  given  quantity 
of  labour-time  is  incorporated,  is  to  assume,  in  fact,  that  gold  and  silver  are  of 
one  and  the  same  material,  and  that  a  given  mass  of  the  less  valuable  metal, 
silver,  is  a  constant  fraction  of  a  given  mass  of  gold.  From  the  reign  of  Edward 
III.  to  the  time  of  George  II.,  the  history  of  money  in  England  consists  of  one 
long  series  of  perturbations  caused  by  the  clashing  of  the  legally  fixed  ratio  be- 
tween the  values  of  gold  and  silver,  with  the  fluctuations  in  their  real  values.  At 
one  time  gold  was  too  high,  at  another,  silver.  The  metal  that  for  the  time  being 
was  estimated  below  its  value,  was  withdrawn  from  circulation,  melted  and  ex- 
ported. The  ratio  between  the  two  metals  was  then  again  altered  by  law,  but 
the  new  nominal  ratio  soon  came  into  conflict  again  with  the  real  one.     In  our  own 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.        109 

Commodities  with  definite  prices  present  themselves  under 
the  form:  a  commodity  A=x  gold;  b  commodity  B=z  gold; 
c  commodity  C=y  gold,  &c,  where  a,  b,  c,  represent  definite 
quantities  of  the  commodities  A,  B2  C  and  x,  z,  y,  definite 
quantities  of  gold.  The  values  of  these  commodities  are, 
therefore,  changed  in  imagination  into  so  many  different  quan- 
tities of  gold.  Hence,  in  spite  of  the  confusing  variety  of 
the  commodities  themselves,  their  values  become  magnitudes 
of  the  same  denomination,  gold-magnitudes.  They  are  now 
capable  of  being  compared  with  each  other  and  measured,  and 
the  want  becomes  technically  felt  of  comparing  them  with 
some  fixed  quantity  of  gold  as  a  unit  measure.  This  unit,  by 
subsequent  division  into  aliquot  parts,  becomes  itself  the 
standard  or  scale.  Before  they  become  money,  gold,  silver, 
and  copper  already  possess  such  standard  measures  in  their 
standards  of  weight,  so  that,  for  example,  a  pound  weight, 
while  serving  as  the  unit,  is,  on  the  one  hand,  divisible  into 
ounces,  and,  on  the  other,  may  be  combined  to  make  up 
hundredweights.1  It  is  owing  to  this  that,  in  all  metallic 
currencies,  the  names  given  to  the  standards  of  money  or  of 
price  were  originally  taken  from  the  pre-existing  names  of  the 
standards  of  weight. 

As  measure  of  value  and  as  standard  of  price,  money  has  two 

times,  the  slight  and  transient  fall  in  the  value  of  gold  compared  with  silver,  which 
was  a  consequence  of  the  Indo-Chinese  demand  for  silver,  produced  on  a  far 
more  extended  scale  in  France  the  same  phenomena,  export  of  silver,  and  its  ex- 
pulsion from  circulation  by  gold.  During  the  years  1855,  1856  and  1857,  the  excess 
in  France  of  gold-imports  over  gold  exports  amounted  to  £41,580,000,  while  the 
excess  of  silver-exports  over  silver-imports  was  £14,704,000.  In  fact,  in  those 
countries  in  which  both  metals  are  legally  measures  of  value,  and  therefore  both 
legal  tender,  so  that  everyone  has  the  option  of  paying  in  either  metal,  the  metal 
that  rises  in  value  is  at  a  premium,  and,  like  every  other  commodity,  measures  its 
price  in  the  over-estimated  metal  which  alone  serves  in  reality  as  the  standard 
.  of  value.  The  result  of  all  experience  and  history  with  regard  to  this  question  is 
simply  that,  where  two  commodities  perform  by  law  the  functions  of  a  measure  of 
value,  in  practice  one  alone  maintains  that  position."  (Karl  Marx,  1.  c.  pp.  90-91.) 
1  The  peculiar  circumstance,  that  while  the  ounce  of  gold  serves  in  England  as 
the  unit  of  the  standard  of  money,  the  pound  sterling  does  not  form  an  aliquot 
part  of  it,  has  been  explained  as  follows:  "Our  coinage  was  originally  adapted 
to  the  employment  of  silver  only,  hence,  an  ounce  of  silver  can  always  be  divided 
into  a  certain  adequate  number  of  pieces  of  coin;  but  as  gold  was  introduced 
at  a  later  period  into  a  coinage  adapted  only  to  silver,  an  ounce  of  gold  cannot  be 
coined  into  an  aliquot  number  of  pieces."  Maclaren,  "A  Sketch  of  the  History 
of   the   Currency."     London,   1858,   p.   16. 

no  Capitalist  Production. 

entirely  distinct  functions  to  perform.  It  is  the  measure 
of  value  inasmuch  as  it  is  the  socially  recognised  incarnation 
of  human  labour ;  it  is  the  standard  of  price  inasmuch  as  it  is 
a  fixed  weight  of  metal.  As  the  measure  of  value  it  serves  to 
convert  the  values  of  all  the  manifold  commodities  into  prices, 
into  imaginary  quantities  of  gold ;  as  the  standard  of  price  it 
measures  those  quantities  of  gold.  The  measure  of  values 
measures  commodities  considered  as  values ;  the  standard  of 
price  measures,  on  the  contrary,  quantities  of  gold  by  a  unit 
quantity  of  gold,  not  the  value  of  one  quantity  of  gold  by  the 
weight  of  another.  In  order  to  make  gold  a  standard  of  price, 
a  certain  weight  must  be  fixed  upon  as  the  unit.  In  this  case, 
as  in  all  cases  of  measuring  quantities  of  the  same  denomina- 
tion, the  establishment  of  an  unvarying  unit  of  measure  is  all- 
important.  Hence,  the  less  the  unit  is  subject  to  variation,  so 
much  the  better  does  the  standard  of  price  fulfill  its  office.  But 
only  in  so  far  as  it  is  itself  a  product  of  labour,  and,  therefore, 
potentially  variable  in  value,  can  gold  serve  as  a  measure  of 

It  is,  in  the  first  place,  quite  clear  that  a  change  in  the  value 
of  gold  does  not,  in  any  way,  affect  its  function  as  a  standard 
of  price.  No  matter  how  this  value  varies,  the  proportions 
between  the  values  of  different  quantities  of  the  metal  remain 
constant.  However  great  the  fall  in  its  value,  12  ounces  of 
gold  still  have  12  times  the  value  of  1  ounce;  and  in  prices, 
the  only  thing  considered  is  the  relation  between  different 
quantities  of  gold.  Since,  on  the  other  haud,  no  rise  or  fall  in 
the  value  of  an  ounce  of  gold  can  alter  its  weight,  no  alteration 
can  take  place  in  the  weight  of  its  aliquot  parts.  Thus  gold 
always  renders  the  same  service  as  an  invariable  standard  of 
price,  however  much  its  value  may  vary. 

In  the  second  place,  a  change  in  the  value  of  gold  does  not 
interfere  with  its  functions  as  a  measure  of  value.  The 
change  affects  all  commodities  simultaneously,  and,  therefore, 
coeterip  'paribus,  leaves  their  relative  values  inter  se,  unaltered, 

1  With  English  writers  the  confusion  between  measure  of  value  and  standard  of 
price  (standard  of  value)  is  indescribable.  Their  functions,  as  well  as  tb<*ir  names, 
are  constantly   interchanged. 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.       in 

although  those  values  are  now  expressed  in  higher  or  lower 

Just  as  when  we  estimate  the  value  of  any  commodity  by 
a  definite  quantity  of  the  use-value  of  some  other  commodity, 
so  in  estimating  the  value  of  the  former  in  gold,  we  assume 
nothing  more  than  that  the  production  of  a  given  quantity  of 
gold  costs,  at  the  given  period,  a  given  amount  of  labour.  As 
regards  the  fluctuations  of  prices  generally,  they  are  subject  to 
the  laws  of  elementary  relative  value  investigated  in  a  former 

A  general  rise  in  the  prices  of  commodities  can  result  only, 
either  from  a  rise  in  their  values — the  value  of  money  remain- 
ing constant — or  from  a  fall  in  the  value  of  money,  the  values 
of  commodities  remaining  constant  On  the  other  hand,  a 
general  fall  in  prices  can  result  only,  either  from  a  fall  in  the 
values  of  commodities — the  value  of  money  remaining  con- 
stant— or  from  a  rise  in  the  value  of  money,  the  values  of 
commodities  remaining  constant.  It  therefore  by  no  means 
follows,  that  a  rise  in  the  value  of  money  necessarily  implies  a 
proportional  fall  in  the  prices  of  commodities ;  or  that  a  fall  in 
the  value  of  money  implies  a  proportional  rise  in  prices. 
Such  change  of  price  holds  good  only  in  the  case  of  com- 
modities whose  value  remains  constant.  With  those,  for  ex- 
ample whose  value  rises,  simultaneously  with,  and  propor- 
tionally to,  that  of  money,  there  is  no  alteration  in  price. 
And  if  their  value  rise  either  slower  or  faster  than  that  of 
money,  the  fall  or  rise  in  their  prices  will  be  determined  by 
the  difference  between  the  change  in  their  value  and  that  of 
money ;  and  so  on. 

Let  us  now  go  back  to  the  consideration  of  the  price-form. 

By  degrees  there  arises  a  discrepancy  between  the  current 
money  names  of  the  various  weights  of  the  precious  metal 
figuring  as  money,  and  the  actual  weights  which  those  names 
originally  represented.  This  discrepancy  is  the  result  of  his- 
torical causes,  among  which  the  chief  are: — (1)  The  im- 
portation of  foreign  money  into  an  imperfectly  developed 
community.  This  happened  in  Home  in  its  early  days,  where 
gold  and  silver  coins  circulated  at  first  as  foreign  commodities. 

112  Capitalist  Production. 

The  names  of  these  foreign  coins  never  coincide  with  those  of 
the  indigenous  weights.  (2)  As  wealth  increases,  the  less 
precious  metal  is  thrust  out  by  the  more  precious  from  its  place 
as  a  measure  of  value,  copper  by  silver,  silver  by  gold,  however 
much  this  order  of  sequence  may  be  in  contradiction  with 
poetical  chronology.1  The  word  pound,  for  instance,  was  the 
money-name  given  to  an  actual  pound  weight  of  silver.  When 
gold  replaced  silver  as  a  measure  of  value,  the  same  name  was 
applied  according  to  the  ratio  between  the  values  of  silver  and 
gold,  to  perhaps  l-15th  of  a  pound  of  gold.  The  word  pound, 
as  a  money-name,  thus  becomes  differentiated  from  the  same 
word  as  a  weight-name.2  (3)  The  debasing  of  money  carried 
on  for  centuries  by  kings  and  princes  to  such  an  extent  that,  of 
the  original  weights  of  the  coins,  nothing  in  fact  remained  but 
the  names. 

These  historical  causes  convert  the  separation  of  the  money- 
name  from  the  weight-name  into  an  established  habit  with  the 
community.3  Since  the  standard  of  money  is  on  the  one  hand 
purely  conventional,  and  must  on  the  other  hand  find  general 
acceptance,  it  is  in  the  end  regulated  by  law.  A  given  weight 
of  one  of  the  precious  metals,  an  ounce  of  gold,  for  instance, 
becomes  officially  divided  into  aliquot  parts,  with  legally  be- 
stowed names,  such  as  pound,  dollar,  &c.  These  aliquot  parts, 
which  henceforth  serve  as  units  of  money,  are  then  sub- 
divided into  other  aliquot  parts  with  legal  names,  such  as 
shilling,  penny,  &c.4  But,  both  before  and  after  these 
divisions  are  made,  a  definite  weight  of  metal  is  the  standard 
of  metallic  money.  The  sole  alteration  consists  in  the  sub- 
division and  denomination. 

1  Moreover,  it  has  not  general  historical  validity. 

2  It  is  thus  that  the  pound  sterling  in  English  denotes  less  than  one-third  of  its 
original  weight;  the  pound  Scot,  before  the  union,  only  l-36th;  the  French  livre, 
l-74th;  the  Spanish  maravedi,  less  than  l-1000th;  and  the  Portuguese  rei  a  still 
smaller    fraction. 

3  "Le  monete  le  quali  oggi  sono  ideali  sono  le  piu  antiche  d'ogni  nazione,  e  tutte 
furono  un  tempo  reali,  e  perche  erano  reali  con  esse  si  contava."  (Galiani: 
Delia   moneta,    1.    c,    p.    153.) 

4  David  Urquhart  remarks  in  his  "Familiar  Words"  on  the  monstrosity  (!) 
that  now-a-days  a  pound  (sterling),  which  is  the  unit  of  the  English  standard 
of  money,  is  equal  to  about  a  quarter  of  an  ounce  of  gold.  "This  is  falsify- 
ing a  measure,  not  establishing  a  standard."  He  sees  in  this  "  false  denomination  " 
of  the  weight  of  gold,  as  in  everything  else,   the  falsifying  hand  of  civilisation. 

Money,  vr  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.       113 

The  prices,  or  quantities  of  gold,  into  which  the  values  of 
commodities  are  ideally  changed,  are  therefore  now  expressed 
m  the  names  of  coins,  or  in  the  legally  valid  names  of  the  sub- 
divisions of  the  gold  standard.  Hence,  instead  of  saying :  A 
quarter  of  wheat  is  worth  an  ounce  of  gold ;  we  say,  it  is  worth 
£3  17s.  l(Hd.  In  this  way  commodities  express  by  their  prices 
how  much  they  are  worth,  and  money  serves  as  money  of 
account  whenever  it  is  a  question  of  fixing  the  value  of  an 
article  in  its  money-form.1 

The  name  of  a  thing  is  something  distinct  from  the  qualities 
of  that  thing.  I  know  nothing  of  a  man,  by  knowing  that  his 
name  is  Jacob.  In  the  same  way  with  regard  to  money,  every 
trace  of  a  value-relation  disappears  in  the  names  pound,  dollar, 
franc,  ducat,  &c.  The  confusion  caused  by  attributing  a  hidden 
meaning  to  these  cabalistic  signs  is  all  the  greater,  because 
these  money-names  express  both  the  values  of  commodities, 
and,  at  the  same  time,  aliquot  parts  of  the  weight  of  the  metal 
that  is  the  standard  of  money.2  On  the  other  hand,  it  is 
absolutely  necessary  that  value,  in  order  that  it  may  be  distin- 
guished from  the  varied  bodily  forms  of  commodities,  should 
assume  this  material  and  unmeaning,  but,  at  the  same  time, 
purely  social  form.3 

1When  Anacharsis  was  asked  for  what  purposes  the  Greeks  used  money,  he  re- 
plied, "  For  reckoning."      (Athen.   Deipn.  1.  "iv.  49  v.  2.  ed  Schweighauser,   1802.) 

2  "  Owing  to  the  fact  that  money,  when  serving  as  the  standard  of  price,  appears 
under  the  same  reckoning  names  as  do  the  prices  of  commodities,  and  that 
therefore  the  sum  of  £3  17s.  10 yid.  may  signify  on  the  one  hand  an  ounce  weight 
of  gold,  and  on  the  other,  the  value  of  a  ton  of  iron,  this  reckoning  name  of  money 
has  been  called  its  mint-price.  Hence  there  sprang  up  the  extraordinary  notion, 
that  the  value  of  gold  is  estimated  in  its  own  material,  and  that,  in  contra-distinc- 
tion  to  all  other  commodities,  its  price  is  fixed  by  the  State.  It  was  erroneously 
thought  that  the  giving  of  reckoning  names  to  definite  weights  of  gold,  is  the 
same  thing  as  fixing  the   value  of  those  weights."     (Karl  Marx.   1.   c,  p.    89.) 

3  See  "Theories  of  the  Unit  of  Measure  of  Money"  in  "Critique  of  Political 
Economy,"  p.  91,  ff.  The  fantastic  notions  about  raising  or  lowering  the  mint- 
price  of  money  by  transferring  to  greater  or  smaller  weights  of  gold  or  silver 
the  names  already  legally  appropriated  to  fixed  weights  of  those  metals;  such  no- 
tions, at  least  in  those  cases  in  which  they  aim,  not  at  clumsy  financial  operations 
against  creditors,  both  public  and  private,  but  at  economical  quack  remedies  have 
been  so  exhaustively  treated  by  Wm.  Petty  in  his  "  Quantulumcunque  concerning' 
money:  To  the  Lord  Marquis  of  Halifax,  1682,"  that  even  his  immediate  followers, 
Sir  Dudley  North  and  John  Locke,  not  to  mention  later  ones,  could  only  dilute 
him.  "  If  the  wealth  of  a  nation,"  he  remarks,  "  could  be  decupled  by  a  proclama- 
tion, it  were  strange  that  such  proclamations  have  not  long  since  been  made  by  our 
Governors."      (1.   c,  p.  36.) 

114  Capitalist  Production. 

Price  is  tihe  money-name  of  the  labour  realised  in  a  commo- 
dity. Hence  the  expression  of  the  equivalence  of  a  commodity 
with  the  sum  of  money  constituting  its  price,  is  a  tautology,1 
just  as  in  general  the  expression  of  the  relative  value  of  a 
commodity  is  a  statement  of  the  equivalence  of  two  commod- 
ities. But  although  price,  heing  the  exponent  of  the  magni- 
tude of  a  commodity's  value,  is  the  exponent  of  its  exchange- 
ratio  with  money;  it  does  not  follow  that  the  exponent  of  this 
exchange-ratio  is  necessarily  the  exponent  of  the  magnitude  of 
the  commodity's  value.  Suppose  two  equal  quantities  of  social- 
ly necessary  labour  to  be  respectively  represented  by  1  quarter 
of  wheat  and  £2  (nearly  -J  oz.  of  gold),  £2  is  the  expression  in 
money  of  the  magnitude  of  the  value  of  the  quarter  of  wheat, 
or  is  its  price.  If  now  circumstances  allow  of  this  price  being 
raised  to  £3,  or  compel  it  to  be  reduced  to  £1,  then  although 
£1  and  £3  may  be  too  small  or  too  great  properly  to  express 
the  magnitude  of  the  wheat's  value,  nevertheless  they  are  its 
prices,  for  they  are,  in  the  first  place,  the  form  under  which  its 
value  appears,  i.e.,  money;  and  in  the  second  place,  the  ex- 
ponents of  its  exchange-ratio  with  money.  If  the  conditions 
of  production,  in  other  words,  if  the  productive  power  of 
labour  remain  constant,  the  same  amount  of  social  labour-time 
must,  both  before  and  after  the  change  in  price,  be  expended  in 
the  reproduction  of  a  quarter  of  wheat.  This  circumstance  de- 
pends, neither  on  the  will  of  the  wheat  producer,  nor  on  that; 
of  the  owners  of  other  commodities. 

Magnitude  of  value  expresses  a  relation  of  social  production, 
it  expresses  the  connection  that  necessarily  exists  between  a 
certain  article  and  the  portion  of  the  total  labour-time  of  society 
required  to  produce  it.  As  soon  as  magnitude  of  value  is  con- 
verted into  price,  the  above  necessary  relation  takes  the  shape 
of  a  more  or  less  accidental  exchange-ratio  between  a  single 
commodity  and  another,  the  money-commodity.  But  this  ex- 
change-ratio may  express  either  the  real  magnitude  of  that 
commodity's  value,  or  the  quantity  of  gold  deviating  from  that 
value,  for  which,  according  to  circumstances,  it  may  be  parted 

1  "  Ou  bien,  il  faut  consentir  a  dire  qu'une  valeur  d'un  million  en  argent  vaut 
plus  qu'une  valeur  egale  en  marchandises."  (Le  Trosne  1.  c.  p.  919),  which 
amounts   to   saying,   "qu'une   valeur   vaut   plus   qu'une   valeur   egale." 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.       115 

with.  The  possibility,  therefore,  of  quantitative  incongruity 
between  price  and  magnitude  of  value,  or  the  deviation  of  the 
former  from  the  latter,  is  inherent  in  the  price-form  itself. 
This  is  no  defect,  but,  on  the  contrary,  admirably  adapts  the 
price-form  to  a  mode  of  production  whose  inherent  laws  impose 
themselves  only  as  the  mean  of  apparently  lawless  irregulari- 
ties that  compensate  one  another. 

The  price-form,  however,  is  not  only  compatible  with  the 
possibility  of  a  quantitative  incongruity  between  magnitude 
of  value  and  price,  i.e.,  between  the  former  and  its  expression 
in  money,  but  it  may  also  conceal  a  qualitative  inconsistency,  so 
much  so,  that,  although  money  is  nothing  but  the  value-form  of 
commodities,  price  ceases  altogether  to  express  value.  Objects 
that  in  themselves  are  no  commodities,  such  as  conscience, 
honour,  &c,  are  capable  of  being  offered  for  sale  by  their  hold- 
ers, and  of  thus  acquiring,  through  their  price,  the  form  of  com- 
modities. Hence  an  object  may  have  a  price  without  having 
value.  The  price  in  that  case  is  imaginary,  like  certain  quan- 
tities in  mathematics.  On  the  other  hand,  the  imaginary  price- 
form  may  sometimes  conceal  either  a  direct  or  indirect  real 
value-relation ;  for  instance,  the  price  of  uncultivated  land, 
which  is  without  value,  because  no  human  labour  has  been  in- 
corporated in  it. 

Price,  like  relative  value  in  general,  expresses  the  value  of 
a  commodity  {e.g.,  a  ton  of  iron),  by  stating  that  a  given  quan- 
tity of  the  equivalent  {e.g.,  an  ounce  of  gold),  is  directly  ex- 
changeable for  iron.  But  it  by  no  means  states  the  converse, 
that  iron  is  directly  exchangeable  for  gold.  In  order,  there- 
fore, that  a  commodity  may  in  practice  act  effectively  as  ex- 
change value,  it  must  quit  its  bodily  shape,  must  transform  it- 
self from  mere  imaginary  into  real  gold,  although  to  the  com- 
modity such  transubstantiation  may  be  more  difficult  than  to 
the  Hegelian  "concept,"  the  transition  from  "necessity"  to 
"freedom,"  or  to  a  lobster  the  casting  of  his  shell,  or  to  Saint 
Jerome  the  putting  off  of  the  old  Adam.1     Though  a  commod- 

1  Jerome  had  to  wrestle  hard,  not  only  in  his  youth  with  the  bodil}  flesh,  as  is 
shown  by  his  fight  in  the  desert  with  the  handsome  women  of  his  imagination,  but 
also  in  his  old  age  with  the  spiritual  flesh.  "  I  thought,"  he  says,  "  I  was  in  the 
spirit  before  the  Judge  of  the  Universe."     "Who  art  thou?"  asked  a  voice.     "I  am 

n6  Capitalist  Production. 

ity  may,  side  by  side  with  its  actual  form  (iron,  for  in- 
stance), take  in  our  imagination  the  form  of  gold,  yet  it  cannot 
at  one  and  the  same  time  actually  be  both  iron  and  gold.  To 
fix  its  price,  it  suffices  to  equate  it  to  gold  in  imagination.  But 
to  enable  it  to  render  to  its  owner  the  service  of  a  universal 
equivalent,  it  must  be  actually  replaced  by  gold.  If  the  owner 
of  the  iron  were  to  go  to  the  owner  of  some  other  commodity 
offered  for  exchange,  and  were  to  refer  him  to  the  price  of  the 
iron  as  proof  that  it  was  already  money,  he  would  get  the  same 
answer  as  St.  Peter  gave  in  heaven  to  Dante,  when  the  latter 
recited  the  creed — 

"  Assai  bene  §  trascorsa 
D'esta  moneta  gia  la  lega  e'l  peso, 
Ma  dimrni  se  tu  1'hai  nella  tua  borsa." 

A  price  therefore  implies  both  that  a  commodity  is  exchange- 
able for  money,  and  also  that  it  must  be  so  exchanged.  On 
the  other  hand,  gold  serves  as  an  ideal  measure  of  value,  only 
because  it  has  already,  in  the  process  of  exchange,  established 
itself  as  the  money-commodity.  Under  the  ideal  measure  of 
values  there  lurks  the  hard  cash. 


a.  The  Metamorphosis  of  Commodities. 

We  saw  in  a  former  chapter  that  the  exchange  of  commodi- 
ties implies  contradictory  and  mutually  exclusive  conditions. 
The  differentiation  of  commodities  into  commodities  and 
money  does  not  sweep  away  these  inconsistencies,  but  develops 
a  modus  vivendi,  a  form  in  which  they  can  exist  side  by  side. 
This  is  generally  the  way  in  which  real  contradictions  are 
reconciled.  For  instance,  it  is  a  contradiction  to  depict  one 
body  as  constantly  falling  towards  another,  and  as,  at  the 
same  time,  constantly  flying  away  from  it.  The  ellipse  is  a 
form  of  motion  which,  while  allowing  this  contradiction  to  go 
on,  at  the  same  time  reconciles  it. 

In  so  far  as  exchange  is  a  process,  by  which  commodities  are 
transferred  from  hands  in  which  they  are  non-use-values,  to 

a  Christian."  "Thou  liest,"  thundered  back  the  great  Judge,  "thou  art  nought  buf 
a  Ciceronian." 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.       117 

hands  in  which  they  become  use-values,  it  is  a  social  circula- 
tion of  matter.  The  product  of  one  form  of  useful  labour 
replaces  that  of  another.  When  once  a  commodity  has  found 
a  resting-place,  where  it  can  serve  as  a  use-value,  it  falls  out 
of  the  sphere  of  exchange  into  that  of  consumption.  But  the 
former  sphere  alone  interests  us  at  present.  We  have,  there- 
fore, now  to  consider  exchange  from  a  formal  point  of  view ;  to 
investigate  the  change  of  form  or  metamorphosis  of  commodi- 
ties which  effectuates  the  social  circulation  of  matter. 

The  comprehension  of  this  change  of  form  is,  as  a  rule,  very 
imperfect.  The  cause  of  this  imperfection  is,  apart  from  indis- 
tinct notions  of  value  itself,  that  every  change  of  form  in  a 
commodity  results  from  the  exchange  of  two  commodities,  an 
ordinary  one  and  the  money-commodity.  If  we  keep  in  view  the 
material  fact  alone  that  a  commodity  has  been  exchanged  for  gold 
we  overlook  the  very  thing  that  we  ought  to  observe — namely, 
what  has  happened  to  the  form  of  the  commodity.  We  overlook 
the  facts  that  gold,  when  a  mere  commodity,  is  not  money,  and 
that  when  other  commodities  express  their  prices  in  gold,  this 
gold  is  but  the  money-form  of  those  commodities  themselves. 

Commodities,  first  of  all;  enter  into  the  process  of  exchange 
just  as  they  are.  The  process  then  differentiates  them  into 
commodities  and  money,  and  thus  produces  an  external  oppo- 
sition corresponding  to  the  internal  opposition  inherent  in 
them,  as  being  at  once  use-values  and  values.  Commodities  as 
use-values  now  stand  opposed  to  money  as  exchange  value. 
On  the  other  hand,  both  opposing  sides  are  commodities, 
unities  of  use-value  and  value.  But  this  unity  of  differences 
manifests  itself  at  two  opposite  poles,  and  at  each  pole  in  an 
opposite  way.  Being  poles  they  are  as  necessarily  opposite  as 
they  are  connected.  On  the  one  side  of  the  equation  we  have 
an  ordinary  commodity,  which  is  in  reality  a  use-value.  Its 
value  is  expressed  only  ideally  in  its  price,  by  which  it  is 
equated  to  its  opponent,  the  gold,  as  to  the  real  embodiment 
of  its  value.  On  the  other  hand,  the  gold,  in  its  metallic 
reality  ranks  as  the  embodiment  of  value,  as  money.  Gold, 
as  gold,  is  exchange  value  itself.  As  to  its  use-value,  that  has 
only  an  ideal  existence,  represented  by  the  series  of  exprea- 

n8  Capitalist  Production. 

sions  of  relative  value  in  which  it  stands  face  to  face  with  all 
other  commodities,  the  sum  of  whose  uses  makes  up  the  sum 
of  the  various  uses  of  gold.  These  antagonistic  forms  of  com- 
modities are  the  real  forms  in  which  the  process  of  their 
exchange  moves  and  takes  place. 

Let  us  now  accompany  the  owner  of  some  commodity — say, 
our  old  friend  the  weaver  of  linen — to  the  scene  of  action,  the 
market,  His  20  yards  of  linen  has  a  definite  price,  £2.  He 
exchanges  it  for  the  £2,  and  then,  like  a  man  of  the  good  old 
stamp  that  he  is,  he  parts  with  the  £2  for  a  family  Bible  of  the 
same  price.  The  linen,  which  in  his  eyes  is  a  mere  commodity, 
a  depository  of  value,  he  alienates  in  exchange  for  gold,  which 
is  the  linen's  value-form,  and  this  form  he  again  parts  with  for 
another  commodity,  the  Bible.,  which  is  destined  to  enter  his 
house  as  an  object  of  utility  and  of  edification  to  its  inmates. 
The  exchange  becomes  an  accomplished  fact  by  two  metamor- 
phoses of  opposite  yet  supplementary  character — the  conversion 
of  the  commodity  into  money,  and  the  re-conversion  of  the 
money  into  a  commodity.1  The  two  phases  of  this  metamor- 
phosis are  both  of  them  distinct  transactions  of  the  weaver — ■ 
selling,  or  the  exchange  of  the  commodity  for  money ;  buying, 
or  the  exchange  of  the  money  for  a  commodity ;  and,  the  unity 
of  the  two  acts,  selling  in  order  to  buy. 

The  result  of  the  whole  transaction,  as  regards  the  weaver, 
is  this,  that  instead  of  being  in  possession  of  the  linen,  he  now 
has  the  Bible ;  instead  of  his  original  commodity,  he  now 
possesses  another  of  the  same  value  but  of  different  utility. 
In  like  manner  he  procures  his  other  means  of  subsistence  and 
means  of  production.  From  his  point  of  view,  the  whole  pro- 
cess effectuates  nothing  more  than  the  exchange  of  the  product 
of  his  labour  for  the  product  of  some  one  else's,  nothing  more 
than  an  exchange  of  products. 

The  exchange  of  commodities  is  therefore  accompanied  by 
the  following  changes  in  their  form. 

1<(  £k  S£  tow Trvpbs  dvrafielfie<r0ai  irdvra,  <pn)<rlv,b  'HpajcXeiTos,  Kal  irvp 

iar&VTWV,  Sxrvep  xpvcrov  xpVIJ-aTa Kal\py\fi&T<i)v  xpv<r6s."  (F.  Lassalle:  Die  Philosophic 
Herakleitos  des  Dunkeln.  Berlin,  1845.  Vol.  I,  p.  222.)  Lassalle,  in  his  note  on 
this   passage,    p.    224,    n.    3,   erroneously   makes   gold   a    mere   symbol   of   value. 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.       119 

Commodity — Money — Commodity. 

C M C. 

The  result  of  the  whole  process  is;  so  far  as  concerns  the 
objects  themselves,  C — C,  the  exchange  of  one  commodity  for 
another,  the  circulation  of  materialised  social  labour.  When 
this  result  is  attained,  the  process  is  at  an  encL 

C — M.     First  metamorphosis,  or  sale. 

The  leap  taken  by  value  from  the  body  of  the  commodity, 
into  the  body  of  the  gold,  is,  as  I  have  elsewhere  called  it,  the 
salto  mortale  of  the  commodity.  If  it  falls  shfert,  then,  al- 
though the  commodity  itself  is  not  harmed,  its  owner  decidedly 
is.  The  social  division  of  labour  causes  his  labour  to  be  as  one- 
sided as  his  wants  are  many-sided.  This  is  precisely  the  reason 
why  the  product  of  his  labour  serves  him  solely  as  exchange 
value.  But  it  cannot  acquire  the  properties  of  a  socially  recog- 
nised universal  equivalent,  except  by  being  converted  into 
money.  That  money,  however,  is  in  some  one  else's  pocket.  In 
order  to  entice  the  money  out  of  that  pocket,  our  friend's  com- 
modity must,  above  all  things,  be  a  use-value  to  the  owner  of  the 
money.  For  this,  it  is  necessary  that  the  labour  expended  upon 
it,  be  of  a  kind  that  is  socially  useful,  of  a  kind  that  constitutes 
a  branch  of  the  social  division  of  labour.  But  division  of  labour 
is  a  system  of  production  which  has  grown  up  spontaneously 
and  continues  to  grow  behind  the  backs  of  the  producers.  The 
commodity  to  be  exchanged  may  possibly  be  the  product  of 
some  new  kind  of  labour,  that  pretends  to  satisfy  newly  arisen 
requirements,  or  even  to  give  rise  itself  to  new  requirements.  A 
particular  operation,  though  yesterday,  perhaps,  forming  one 
out  of  the  many  operations  conducted  by  one  producer  in  creat- 
ing a  given  commodity,  may  to-day  separate  itself  from  this 
connection,  may  establish  itself  as  an  independent  branch  of 
labour  and  send  its  incomplete  product  to  market  as  an  inde- 
pendent commodity.  The  circumstances  may  or  may  not  be  ripe 
for  such  a  separation.  To-day  the  product  satisfies  a  social 
want.  To-morrow  the  article  may,  either  altogether  or  partial- 
ly, be  superseded  by  some  other  appropriate  product.  Moreover, 
although  our  weaver's  labour  may  be  a  recognised  branch  of 

120  Capitalist  Produtt-icn. 

the  social  division  of  labour,  yet  that  fact  is  by  no  meand  suffi- 
cient to  guarantee  the  utility  of  his  20  yards,  of  lmen.  If  the 
community's  want  of  linen,  and  such  a  want  has  a  limit  like 
every  other  want,  should  already  be  saturated  by  the  products 
of  rival  weavers,  our  friend's  product  is  superfluous,  redundant, 
and  consequently  useless.  Although  people  do  not  look  a  gift- 
horse  in  the  mouth,  our  friend  does  not  frequent  the  market  for 
the  purpose  of  making  presents.  But  suppose  his  product  turn 
out  a  real  use-value,  and  thereby  attracts  money  ?  The  question 
arises,  how  much  will  it  attract  ?  No  doubt  the  answer  is  al- 
ready anticipated  in  the  price  of  the  article,  in  the  exponent  of 
the  magnitude  of  its  value.  We  leave  out  of  consideration  here 
any  accidental  miscalculation  of  value  by  our  friend,  a  mistake 
that  is  soon  rectified  in  the  market.  We  suppose  him  to  have 
spent  on  his  product  only  that  amount  of  labour-time  that  is  on 
an  average  socially  necessary  The  price  then,  is  merely  the 
money-name  of  the  quantity  of  social  labour  realised  in  his 
commodity.  But  without  the  leave,  and  behind  the  back,  of  our 
weaver,  the  old  fashioned  mode  of  weaving  undergoes  a  change. 
The  labour-time  that  yesterday  was  without  doubt  socially  nec- 
essary to  the  production  of  a  yard  of  linen,  ceases  to  be  so  to- 
day, a  fact  which  the  owner  of  the  money  is  only  too  eager  to 
prove  from  the  prices  quoted  by  our  friend's  competitors.  Un- 
luckily for  him,  weavers  are  not  few  and  far  between.  Lastly, 
suppose  that  every  piece  of  linen  in  the  market  contains  no 
more  labour-time  than  is  socially  necessary.  In  spite  of  this, 
all  these  pieces  taken  as  a  whole,  may  have  had  superfluous 
labour-time  spent  upon  thern.  If  the  market  cannot  stomach 
the  whole  quantity  at  the  normal  price  of  2  shillings  a  yard, 
this  proves  that  too  great  a  portion  of  the  total  labour  of  the 
community  has  been  expended  in  the  form  of  weaving.  The 
■effect  is  the  same  as  if  each  individual  weaver  had  expended 
more  labour-time  upon  his  particular  product  than  is  socially 
necessary.  Here  we  may  say,  with  the  German  proverb: 
caught  together,  hung  together.  All  the  linen  in  the  market 
counts  but  as  one  article  of  commerce,  of  which  each  piece  is 
only  an  aliquot  part.  And  as  a  matter  of  fact,  the  value  also  of 
each  single  yard  is  but  the  materialised  form  of  the  same  def- 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.       12 1 

inite  and  socially  fixed  quantity  of  homogeneous  human  labour. 

We  see  then,  commodities  are  in  love  with  money,  but  "the 
course  of  true  love  never  did  run  smooth."  The  quantitative 
division  of  labour  is  brought  about  in  exactly  the  same  spon- 
taneous and  accidental  manner  as  its  qualitative  division.  The 
owners  of  commodities  therefore  find  out,  that  the  same  divi- 
sion of  labour  that  turns  them  into  independent  private  pro- 
ducers, also  frees  the  social  process  of  production  and  the 
relations  of  the  individual  producers  to  each  other  within  that 
process,  from  all  dependence  on  the  will  of  those  producers, 
and  that  the  seeming  mutual  independence  of  the  individuals 
is  supplemented  by  a  system  of  general  and  mutual  dependence 
through  or  by  means  of  the  products, 

The  division  of  labour  converts  the  product  of  labour  into  a 
commodity,  and  thereby  makes  necessary  its  further  conversion 
into  money.  At  the  same  time  it  also  makes  the  accomplish- 
ment of  this  trans-substantiation  quite  accidental.  Here,  how- 
ever, we  are  only  concerned  with  the  phenomenon  in  its 
integrity,  and  we  therefore  assume  its  progress  to  be  normal. 
Moreover,  if  the  conversion  take  place  at  all,  that  is,  if  the 
commodity  be  not  absolutely  unsaleable,  its  metamorphosis 
does  take  place  although  the  price  realised  may  be  abnormally 
above  or  below  the  value. 

The  seller  has  his  commodity  replaced  by  gold,  the  buyer 
has  his  gold  replaced  by  a  commodity.  The  fact  which  here 
stares  us  in  the  face  is,  that  a  commodity  and  gold,  20  yards 
of  linen  and  £2,  have  changed  hands  and  places,  in  other  words, 
that  they  have  been  exchanged.  But  for  what  is  the  com- 
modity exchanged  ?  For  the  shape  assumed  by  its  own  value, 
for  the  universal  equivalent.  And  for  what  is  the  gold 
exchanged  ?  Tor  a  particular  form  of  its  own  use-value. 
Why  does  gold  take  the  form  of  money  face  to  face  with  the 
linen  ?  Because  the  linen's  price  of  £2,  its  denomination  in 
money,  has  already  equated  the  linen  to  gold  in  its  character 
of  money.  A  commodity  strips  off  its  original  commodity-form 
on  being  alienated,  i.e.,  on  the  instant  its  use-value  actually 
attracts  the  gold,  that  before  existed  only  ideally  in  its  price. 
The  realisation  of  a  commodity's  price,  or  of  its  ideal  value- 

i22  Capitalist  Production. 

form,  is  therefore  at  the  same  time  the  realisation  of  the  ideal 
use-value  of  money;  the  conversion  of  a  commodity  into 
money,  is  the  simultaneous  conversion  of  money  into  a  com- 
modity. The  apparently  single  process  is  in  reality  a  double 
one.  From  the  pole  of  the  commodity  owner  it  is  a  sale,  from 
the  opposite  pole  of  the  money  owner,  it  is  a  purchase.  In 
other  words,  a  sale  is  a  purchase,  C — M  is  also  M — C.1 

Up  to  this  point  we  have  considered  men  in  only  one  econom- 
ical capacity,  that  of  owners  of  commodities,  a  capacity  in 
which  they  appropriate  the  produce  of  the  labour  of  others,  by 
alienating  that  of  their  own  labour.  Hence,  for  one  commodity 
owner  to  meet  with  another  who  has  money,  it  is  necessary, 
either,  that  the  product  of  the  labour  of  the  latter  person,  the 
buyer,  should  be  in  itself  money,  should  be  gold,  the  material 
of  which  money  consists,  or  that  his  product  should  already 
have  changed  its  skin  and  have  stripped  off  its  original  form 
of  a  useful  object.  In  order  that  it  may  play  the  part  of 
money,  gold  must  of  course  enter  the  market  at  some  point  or 
other.  This  point  is  to  be  found  at  the  source  of  production 
of  the  metal,  at  which  place  gold  is  bartered,  as  the  immediate 
product  of  labour,  for  some  other  product  of  equal  value. 
From  that  moment  it  always  represents  the  realised  price  of 
some  commodity.2  Apart  from  its  exchange  for  other  com- 
modities at  the  source  of  its  production,  gold,  in  whose-so-ever 
hands  it  may  be,  is  the  transformed  shape  of  some  commodity 
alienated  by  its  owner ;  it  is  the  product  of  a  sale  or  of  the  first 
metamorphosis  C — M.3  Gold,  as  we  saw,  became  ideal  money, 
or  a  measure  of  values,  in  consequence  of  all  commodities 
measuring  their  values  by  it,  and  thus  contrasting  it  ideally 
with  their  natural  shape  as  useful  objects,  and  making  it  the 
shape  of  their  value.  It  became  real  money,  by  the  general 
alienation  of  commodities,  by  actually  changing  places  with 
their  natural  forms  as  useful  objects,  and  thus  becoming  in 

1  "  Toute  vente  est  achat."  (Dr.  Quesnay:  "Dialogues  sur  le  Commerce  et  les 
Travaux  des  Artisans."  Physiocrates  ed.  Daire  I.  Partie,  Paris,  1846,  p.  170),  or 
as   Quesnay  in   his  "Maximes   generales"   puts   it,    "Vendre   est   acheter." 

2  "Le  prix  d'une  marchandise  ne  pouvant  etre  paye  que  par  le  prix  d'une  autre 
marchandise."  (Mercier  de  la  Riviere:  "L'Ordre  natural  et  essentiel  des  societe6 
politiques."     Physiocrates,   ed.    Daire   II.    Partie,   p.    554.) 

8  "Pour  avoir  cet  argent,  il  faut  avoir  vendu,"  1.  c,  p.  543. 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.       123 

reality  tlie  embodiment  of  their  values.  When  they  assume  this 
money-shape,  commodities  strip  off  every  trace  of  their  natural 
use-value,  and  of  the  particular  kind  of  labour  to  which  they 
owe  their  creation,  in  order  to  transform  themselves  into  the 
uniform,  socially  recognised  incarnation  of  homogeneous  hu- 
man labour.  We  cannot  tell  from  the  mere  look  of  a  piece  of 
money,  for  what  particular  commodity  it  has  been  exchanged. 
Under  their  money-form  all  commodities  look  alike.  Hence, 
money  may  be  dirt,  although  dirt  is  not  money.  We  will 
assume  that  the  two  gold  pieces,  in  consideration  of  which  our 
weaver  has  parted  with  his  linen,  are  the  metamorphosed  shape 
of  a  quarter  of  wheat.  The  sale  of  the  linen,  C — M,  is  at  the 
same  time  its  purchase,  M — C.  But  the  sale  is  the  first  act  of 
a  process  that  ends  with  a  transaction  of  an  opposite  nature, 
namely,  the  purchase  of  a  Bible ;  the  purchase  of  the  linen,  on 
the  other  hand,  ends  a  movement  that  began  with  a  transac- 
tion of  an  opposite  nature,  namely,  with  the  sale  of  the  wheat, 
C — M  (linen — money),  which  is  the  first  phase  of  C — M — C 
(linen — money — Bible),  is  also  M — C  (money — linen),  the 
last  phase  of  another  movement  C — M — C  (wheat — money — 
linen).  The  first  metamorphosis  of  one  commodity,  its  trans- 
formation from  a  commodity  into  money,  is  therefore  also  in- 
variably the  second  metamorphosis  of  some  other  commodity, 
the  retransformation  of  the  latter  from  money  into  a  com- 

M — C ,  or  purchase.     The  second  and  concluding  metamor- 
phosis of  a  commodity. 

Because  money  is  the  metamorphosed  shape  of  all  other 
commodities,  the  result  of  their  general  alienation,  for  this 
reason  it  is  alienable  itself  without  restriction  or  condition. 
It  reads  all  prices  backwards,  and  thus,  so  to  say,  depicts  itself 
in  the  bodies  of  all  other  commodities,  which  offer  to  it  the 
material  for  the  realisation  of  its  own  use-value.  At  the  same 
time  the  prices,  wooing  glances  cast  at  money  by  commodities, 

1  As  before  remarked,  the  actual  producer  of  gold  or  silver  forms  an  exception. 
He  exchanges  his  product  directly  for  another  commodity,  without  having  first  sold 

124  Capitalist  Production. 

define  the  limits  of  its  convertibility,  by  pointing  to  its  quan- 
tity. Since  every  commodity,  on  becoming  money,  disappears 
as  a  commodity,  it  is  impossible  to  tell  from  trie  money  itself, 
how  it  got  into  the  hands  of  its  possessor,  or  what  article  has 
been  changed  into  it.  !Non  olet,  from  whatever  source  it  may 
come.  Representing  on  the  one  hand  a  sold  commodity,  it 
represents  on  the  other  hand  a  commodity  to  be  bought.1 

M — C,  a  purchase,  is,  at  the  same  time,  C — M,  a  sale ;  the 
concluding  metamorphosis  of  one  commodity  is  the  first  meta- 
morphosis of  another.  With  regard  to  our  weaver,  the  life  of 
his  commodity  ends  with  the  Bible,  into  which  he  has  recon- 
verted his  £2.  But  suppose  the  seller  of  the  Bible  turns  the  £2 
set  free  by  the  weaver  into  brandy.  M — C,  the  concluding 
phase  of  C — M — C  (linen,  money,  Bible),  is  also  C — M,  the 
first  phase  of  C — M — C  (Bible,  money,  brandy).  The  pro- 
ducer of  a  particular  commodity  has  that  one  article  alone  to 
offer ;  this  he  sells  very  often  in  large  quantities,  but  his  many 
and  various  wants  compel  him  to  split  up  the  price  realised,  the 
sum  of  money  set  free,  into  numerous  purchases.  Hence  a  sale 
leads  to  many  purchases  of  various  articles.  The  concluding 
metamorphosis  of  a  commodity  thus  constitutes  an  aggregation 
of  first  metamorphoses  of  various  other  commodities. 

If  we  now  consider  the  completed  metamorphosis  of  a  com- 
modity, as  a  whole,  it  appears  in  the  first  place,  that  it  is  made 
up  of  two  opposite  and  complementary  movements,  C — M  and 
M — C.  These  two  antithetical  transmutations  of  a  commodity 
are  brought  about  by  two  antithetical  social  acts  on  the  part 
of  the  owner,  and  these  acts  in  their  turn  stamp  the  character 
of  the  economical  parts  played  by  him.  As  the  person  who 
makes  a  sale,  he  is  a  seller;  as  the  person  who  makes  a  pur- 
chase, he  is  a  buyer.  But  just  as,  upon  every  such  transmu- 
tation of  a  commodity,  its  two  forms,  commodity-form  and 
money-form,  exist  simultaneously  but  at  opposite  poles,  so 
every  seller  has  a  buyer  opposed  to  him,  and  every  buyer  a 
seller.     While  one.  particular  commodity  is  going  through  its 

1 "  Si  l'argent  represente,  dans  nos  mains,  les  choses  que  nous  pouvons  desirer 
d'acheter,  il  y  represente  aussi  les  choses  que  nous  avons  vendues  pour  cet  argent." 
(Mercier  de  la  Riviere  1.  c.) 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.        125 

two  transmutations  in  succession.,  from  a  commodity  into 
money  and  from  money  into  another  commodity,  the  owner  of 
the  commodity  changes  in  succession  his  part  from  that  of 
seller  to  that  of  buyer.  These  characters  of  seller  and  buyer 
are  therefore  not  permanent,  but  attach  themselves  in  turns  to 
the  various  persons  engaged  in  the  circulation  of  commodities. 

The  complete  metamorphosis  of  a  commodity,  in  its  simplest 
form,  implies  four  extremes,  and  three  dramatis  personse. 
First,  a  commodity  comes  face  to  face  with  money ;  the  latter 
is  the  form  taken  by  the  value  of  the  former,  and  exists  in  all 
its  hard  reality,  in  the  pocket  of  the  buyer.  A  commodity- 
owner  is  thus  brought  into  contact  with  a  possessor  of  money. 
So  soon,  now,  as  the  commodity  has  been  changed  into 
money,  the  money  becomes  its  transient  equivalent-form,  the 
use-value  of  which  equivalent-form  is  to  be  found  in  the 
bodies  of  other  commodities.  Money,  the  final  term  of  the 
first  transmutation,  is  at  the  same  time  the  starting  point  for 
the  second.  The  person  who  is  a  seller  in  the  first  transac- 
tion thus  becomes  a  buyer  in  the  second,  in  which  a  third 
commodity-owner  appears  on  the  scene  as  a  seller.1 

The  two  phases,  each  inverse  to  the  other,  that  make  up  the 
metamorphosis  of  a  commodity  constitute  together  a  circular 
movement,  a  circuit:  commodity-form,  stripping  off  of  this 
form,  and  return  to  the  commodity-form.  No  doubt,  the  com- 
modity appears  here  under  two  different  aspects.  At  the  start- 
ing point  it  is  not  a  use-value  to  its  owner;  at  the  finishing 
point  it  is.  So,  too,  the  money  appears  in  the  first  phase  as  a 
solid  crystal  of  value,  a  crystal  into  which  the  commodity 
eagerly  solidifies,  and  in  the  second,  dissolves  into  the  mere 
transient  equivalent-form  destined  to  be  replaced  by  a  use- 

The  two  metamorphoses  constituting  the  circuit  are  at  the 
same  time  two  inverse  partial  metamorphoses  of  two  other 
commodities.  One  and  the  same  commodity,  the  linen,  opens 
the  series  of  its  own  metamorphoses,  and  completes  the  meta- 
morphosis of  another  (the  wheat).     In  the  first  phase  or  sale, 

1  "II  y  a  done  .  .  .  quatre  termes  et  trois  contractants,  dont  l'un  intervient  deux 
fois."     (Le  Trosne  1.   c.   p.   909.) 

126  Capitalist  Production. 

the  linen  plays  these  two  parts  in  its  own  person.  But,  then, 
changed  into  gold,  it  completes  its  own  second  and  final  meta- 
morphosis, and  helps  at  the  same  time  to  accomplish  the  first 
metamorphosis  of  a  third  commodity.  Hence  the  circuit  made 
Dy  one  commodity  in  the  course  of  its  metamorphoses  is  inextri- 
cably mixed  up  with  the  circuits  of  other  commodities.  The 
total  of  all  the  different  circuits  constitutes  the  circulation  of 

The  circulation  of  commodities  differs  from  the  direct  ex- 
change of  products  (barter),  not  only  in  form,  but  in  substance. 
Only  consider  the  course  of  events.  The  weaver  has,  as  a 
matter  of  fact,  exchanged  his  linen  for  a  Bible,  his  own  com- 
modity for  that  of  some  one  else.  But  this  is  true  only  so  far 
as  he  himself  is  concerned.  The  seller  of  the  Bible,  who  pre- 
fers something  to  warm  his  inside,  no  more  thought  of  exchang- 
ing his  Bible  for  linen  than  our  weaver  knew  that  wheat  had 
been  exchanged  for  his  linen.  B's  commodity  replaces  that  of 
A,  but  A  and  B  do  not  mutually  exchange  those  commodities. 
It  may,  of  course,  happen  that  A  and  B  make  simultaneous 
purchases,  the  one  from  the  other ;  but  such  exceptional  trans- 
actions are  by  no  means  the  necessary  result  of  the  general  con- 
ditions of  the  circulation  of  commodities.  We  see  here,  on 
the  one  hand,  how  the  exchange  of  commodities  breaks  through 
all  local  and  personal  bounds  inseparable  from  direct  barter, 
and  develops  the  circulation  of  the  products  of  social  labor; 
and  on  the  other  hand,  how  it  develops  a  whole  network  of  so- 
cial relations  spontaneous  in  their  growth  and  entirely  beyond 
the  control  of  the  actors.  It  is  only  because  the  farmer  has 
sold  his  wheat  that  the  weaver  is  enabled  to  sell  his  linen,  only 
because  the  weaver  has  sold  his  linen  that  our  Hotspur  is 
enabled  to  sell  his  Bible,  and  only  because  the  latter  has  sold 
the  water  of  everlasting  life  that  the  distiller  is  enabled  to  sell 
his  eau-de-vie,  and  so  on. 

The  process  of  circulation,  therefore,  does  not,  like  direct 
barter  of  products,  become  extinguished  upon  the  use  values 
changing  places  and  hands.  The  money  does  not  vanish  on 
dropping  out  of  the  circuit  of  the  metamorphosis  of  a  given 
commodity.     It    is    constantly    being   precipitated    into    new 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.       127 

places  in  the  arena  of  circulation  vacated  by  other  commodities. 
In  the  complete  metamorphosis  of  the  linen,  for  example,  linen 
— money — Bible,  the  linen  first  falls  out  of  circulation,  and 
money  steps  into  its  place.  Then  the  Bible  falls  out  of  circula- 
tion, and  again  money  takes  its  place.  When  one  commodity 
replaces  another,  the  money  commodity  always  sticks  to  the 
hands  of  some  third  person.1  Circulation  sweats  money  from 
every  pore. 

Nothing  can  be  more  childish  than  the  dogma,  that  because 
every  sale  is  a  purchase,  and  every  purchase  a  sale,  therefore 
the  circulation  of  commodities  necessarily  implies  an  equili- 
brium of  sales  and  purchases.  If  this  means  that  the  number 
of  actual  sales  is  equal  to  the  number  of  purchases,  it  is  mere 
tautology.  But  its  real  purport  is  to  prove  that  every  seller 
brings  his  buyer  to  market  with  him.  Nothing  of  the  kind. 
The  sale  and  the  purchase  constitute  one  identical  act,  an 
exchange  between  a  commodity-owner  and  an  owner  of  money, 
between  two  persons  as  opposed  to  each  other  as  the  two  poles 
of  a  magnet.  They  form  two  distinct  acts,  of  polar  and  oppo- 
site characters,  when  performed  by  one  single  person.  Hence 
the  identity  of  sale  and  purchase  implies  that  the  commodity 
is  useless,  if,  on  being  thrown  into  the  alchemistical  retort  of 
circulation,  it  does  not  come  out  again  in  the  shape  of  money ; 
if,  in  other  words,  it  cannot  be  sold  by  its  owner,  and  there- 
fore be  bought  by  the  owner  of  the  money  That  identity  fur- 
ther implies  that  the  exchange,  if  it  does  take  place,  constitutes 
a  period  of  rest,  an  interval,  long  or  short,  in  the  life  of  the 
commodity.  Since  the  first  metamorphosis  of  a  commodity  is 
at  once  a  sale  and  a  purchase,  it  is  also  an  independent  process 
in  itself.  The  purchaser  has  the  commodity,  the  seller  has  the 
money,  i.e.,  a  commodity  ready  to  go  into  circulation  at  any 
time.  No  one  can  sell  unless  some  one  else  purchases.  But 
no  one  is  forthwith  bound  to  purchase,  because  he  has  just  sold. 
Circulation  bursts  through  all  restrictions  as  to  time,  place, 
and  individuals,  imposed  by  direct  barter,  and  this  it  effects  by 
splitting  up,  into  the  antithesis  of  a  sale  and  a  purchase,  the 

1  Self-evident  as  this  may  be,  it  is  nevertheless  for  the  most  part  unobserved  by 
political  economists,  and  especially  by  the  "  Freetrader  Vulgaris." 

128  Capitalist  Production. 

direct  identity  that  in  barter  does  exist  between  the  alienation 
of  one's  own  and  the  acquisition  of  some  other  man's  product. 
To  say  that  these  two  independent  and  antithetical  acts  have 
an  intrinsic  unity,  are  essentially  one,  is  the  same  as  to  say 
that  this  intrinsic  oneness  expresses  itself  in  an  external, 
antithesis.  If  the  interval  in  time  between  the  two  comple- 
mentary phases  of  the  complete  metamorphosis  of  a  commodity 
becomes  too  great,  if  the  split  between  the  sale  and  the  purchase 
becomes  too  pronounced,  the  intimate  connexion  between  them, 
their  oneness,  asserts  itself  by  producing — a  crisis.  The 
antithesis,  use-value  and  value ;  the  contradictions  that  private 
labour  is  bound  to  manifest  itself  as  direct  social  labour,  that  a 
particularized  concrete  kind  of  labour  has  to  pass  for  abstract 
human  labour ;  the  contradiction  between  the  personification 
of  objects  and  the  representation  of  persons  by  things ;  all  these 
antitheses  and  contradictions,  which  are  immanent  in  com- 
modities, assert  themselves,  and  develop  their  modes  of  motion, 
in  the  antithetical  phases  of  the  metamorphosis  of  a  commod- 
ity. These  modes  therefore  imply  the  possibility,  and  no  more 
than  the  possibility,  of  crisis.  The  conversion  of  this  mere 
possibility  into  a  reality  is  the  result  of  a  long  series  of  rela- 
tions, that,  from  our  present  standpoint  of  simple  circulation, 
have  as  yet  no  existence.1 

b.   The  currency2  of  money. 

The  change  of  form,  C — M — C,  by  which  the  circulation  of 
the  material  products  of  labour  is  brought  about,  requires  that 

1  See  my  observations  on  James  Mill  in  "Critique,  &c,"  p.  123—125.  With  regard 
to  this  subject,  we  may  notice  two  methods  characteristic  of  apologetic  economy. 
The  first  is  the  identification  of  the  circulation  of  commodities  with  the  direct  bar- 
ter of  products,  by  simple  abstraction  from  their  points  of  difference;  the  second  is, 
the  attempt  to  explain  away  the  contradictions  of  capitalist  production,  by  reducing 
the  relations  between  the  persons  engaged  in  that  mode  of  production,  to  the  simple 
relations  arising  out  of  the  circulation  of  commodities.  The  production  and  circula- 
tion of  commodities  are,  however,  phenomena  that  occur  to  a  greater  or  less  extent 
in  modes  of  production  the  most  diverse.  If  we  are  acquain'ed  with  nothing  but 
the  abstract  categories  of  circulation,  which  are  common  to  all  these  modes  of  pro- 
duction, we  cannot  possibly  know  anything  of  the  specific  points  of  difference  of 
those  modes,  nor  pronounce  any  judgment  upon  them.  In  no  science  is  such  a  big 
fuss  made  with  commonplace  truisms  as  in  political  economy.  For  instance,  J.  B. 
Say  sets  himself  up  as  a  judge  of  crises,  because,  forsooth,  he  knows  that  a  com- 
modity  is  a  product. 

2  Translator's   note.  —  This  word   is   here   used   in  its  original   signification  of  tb« 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.      129 

a  given  value  in  the  shape  of  a  commodity  shall  begin  the  pro- 
cess, and  shall,  also  in  the  shape  of  a  commodity,  end  it.  The 
movement  of  the  commodity  is  therefore  a  circuit.  On  the 
other  hand,  the  form  of  this  movement  precludes  a  circuit  from 
being  made  by  the  money.  The  result  is  not  the  return  of  the 
money,  but  its  continued  removal  further  and  further  away 
from  its  starting-point.  So  long  as  the  seller  sticks  fast  to  his 
money,  which  is  the  transformed  shape  of  his  commodity,  that 
commodity  is  still  in  the  first  phase  of  its  metamorphosis,  and 
has  completed  only  half  its  course.  But  so  soon  as  he  com- 
pletes the  process,  so  soon  as  he  supplements  his  sale  by  a  pur- 
chase, the  money  again  leaves  the  hands  of  its  possessor.  It 
is  true  that  if  the  weaver,  after  buying  the  Bible,  sells  more- 
linen,  money  comes  back  into  his  hands.  But  this  return  is  not 
owing  to  the  circulation  of  the  first  20  yards  of  linen ;  that  cir- 
culation resulted  in  the  money  getting  into  the  hands  of  the 
seller  of  the  Bible.  The  return  of  money  into  the  hands  of  the 
weaver  is  brought  about  only  by  the  renewal  or  repetition  of 
the  process  of  circulation  with  a  fresh  commodity,  which 
renewed  process  ends  with  the  same  result  as  its  predecessor 
did.  Hence  the  movement  directly  imparted  to  money  by  the 
circulation  of  commodities  takes  the  form  of  a  constant  motion 
away  from  its  starting  point,  of  course  from  the  hands  of  one 
commodity  owner  into  those  of  another.  This  course  consti- 
tutes its  currency  (cours  de  la  monnaie). 

The  currency  of  money  is  the  constant  and  monotonous  re- 
petition of  the  same  process.  The  commodity  is  always  in  the 
hands  of  the  seller ;  the  money,  as  a  means  of  purchase,  always 
in  the  hands  of  the  buyer.  And  money  serves  as  a  means  of 
purchase  by  realising  the  price  of  the  commodity.  This  reali- 
sation transfers  the  commodity  from  the  seller  to  the  buyer, 
and  removes  the  money  from  the  hands  of  the  buyer  into  those 
of  the  seller,  where  it  again  goes  through  the  same  process  with 
another  commodity  That  this  one-sided  character  of  the 
moneys  motion  arises  out  of  the  two-sided  character  of  the 
commodity's  motion,   is.   a   circumstance  that   is  veiled  over. 

course  or  track  pursued  by  money  as  it  changes  from  hand  to  hand,  a  course  which 
essentially   differs   from   circulation. 


130  Capitalist  Production. 

The  very  nature  of  the  circulation  of  commodities  begets  the  op- 
posite appearance.  The  first  metamorphosis  of  a  commodity  is 
visibly,  not  only  the  money's  movement,  but  also  that  of  the 
commodity  itself;  in  the  second  metamorphosis,  on  the  con- 
trary, the  movement  appears  to  us  as  the  movement  of  the 
money  alone.  In  the  first  phase  of  its  circulation  the  com- 
modity changes  place  with  the  money.  Thereupon  the  com- 
modity, under  its  aspect  of  a  useful  object,  falls  out  of 
circulation  into  consumption.1  In  its  stead  we  have  its  value- 
shape — the  money.  It  then  goes  through  the  second  phase  of 
its  circulation,  not  under  its  own  natural  shape,  but  under  the 
shape  of  money.  The  continuity  of  the  movement  is  therefore 
kept  up  by  the  money  alone,  and  the  same  movement  that  as 
regards  the  commodity  consists  of  two  processes  of  an  anti- 
thetical character,  is;  when  considered  as  the  movement  of 
the  money,  always  one  and  the  same  process,  a  continued 
change  of  places  with  ever  fresh  commodities.  Hence  the 
result  brought  about  by  the  circulation  of  commodities,  namely, 
the  replacing  of  one  commodity  by  another,  takes  the  appear- 
ance of  having  been  effected  not  by  means  of  the  change  of 
form  of  the  commodities,  but  rather  by  the  money  acting  as  a 
medium  of  circulation,  by  an  action  that  circulates  commodi- 
ties, to  all  appearance  motionless  in  themselves,  and  transfers 
them  from  hands  in  which  they  are  non-use-values,  to  hands  in 
which  they  are  use-values;  and  that  in  a  direction  constantly 
opposed  to  the  direction  of  the  money.  The  latter  is  con- 
tinually withdrawing  commodities  from  circulation  and  step- 
ping into  their  places,  and  in  this  way  continually  moving 
further  and  further  from  its  starting-point.  Hence,  although 
the  movement  of  the  money  is  merely  the  expression  of 
the  circulation  of  commodities,  yet  the  contrary  appears  to  be 
the  actual  fact,  and  the  circulation  of  commodities  seems  to  be 
the  result  of  the  movement  of  the  money.2 

1  Even  when  the  commodity  is  sold  over  and  over  again,  a  phenomenon  that  at 
present  has  no  existence  for  us,  it  falls,  when  definitely  sold  for  the  last  time,  out 
of  the  sphere  of  circulation  into  that  of  consumption,  where  it  serves  either  au 
means  of  subsistence  or  means  of   production. 

2  "  II  (l'argent)  n'a  d'autre  mouvement  que  celui  qui  lui  est  imprime  par  lcs  pro> 
ductions."     (Le  Trosne  I.e. p.  885.) 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.       13B 

Again,  money  functions  as  a  means  of  circulation,  only 
because  in  it  the  values  of  commodities  have  independent 
reality.  Hence  its  movement,  as  the  medium  of  circulation,  is, 
in  fact,  merely  the  movement  of  commodities  while  changing 
their  forms.  This  fact  must  therefore  make  itself  plainly  vis- 
ible in  the  currency  of  money.  The  twofold  change  of  form  in 
a  commodity  is  reflected  in  the  twice  repeated  change  of  place 
of  the  same  piece  of  money  during  the  complete  metamorphosis 
of  a  commodity,  and  in  its  constantly  repeated  change  of  place, 
as  metamorphosis  follows  metamorphosis,  and  each  becomes 
interlaced  with  the  others. 

The  linen,  for  instance,  first  of  all  exchanges  its  commodity- 
form  for  its  money-form.  The  last  term  of  its  first  metamor- 
phosis (C — M),  or  the  money-form,  is  the  first  term  of  its  final 
metamorphosis  (M — C),  of  its  re-conversion  into  a  useful 
commodity,  the  Bible.  But  each  of  these  changes  of  form  is 
accomplished  by  an  exchange  between  commodity  and  money, 
by  their  reciprocal  displacement.  The  same  pieces  of  coin,  in 
the  first  act,  changed  places  with  the  linen,  in  the  second,  with 
the  Bible.  They  are  displaced  twice.  The  first  metamorpho- 
sis puts  them  into  the  weaver's  pocket,  the  second  draws  them 
out  of  it.  The  two  inverse  changes  undergone  by  the  same 
commodity  are  reflected  in  the  displacement,  twice  repeated, 
but  in  opposite  directions,  of  the  same  pieces  of  coin. 

If,  on  the  contrary,  only  one  phase  of  the  metamorphosis  is 
gone  through,  if  there  are  only  sales  or  only  purchases,  then  a 
given  piece  of  money  changes  its  place  only  once.  Its  second 
change  corresponds  to  and  expresses  the  second  metamorphosis 
of  the  commodity,  its  re-conversion  from  money  into  another 
commodity  intended  for  use.  It  is  a  matter  of  course,  that  all 
this  is  applicable  to  the  simple  circulation  of  commodities 
alone,  the  only  form  that  we  are  now  considering. 

Every  commodity,  when  it  first  steps  into  circulation,  and 
undergoes  its  first  change  of  form,  does  so  only  to  fall  out  of 
circulation  again  and  to  be  replaced  by  other  commodities. 
Money,  on  the  contrary,  as  the  medium  of  circulation,  keeps 
continually  within  the  sphere  of  circulation,  and  moves  about 

132  Capitalist  Production. 

in  it.     The  question  therefore  arises,  how  much  money  this 
sphere  constantly  absorbs  ? 

In  a  given  country  there  take  place  every  day  at  the  same 
time,  but  in  different  localities,  numerous  one-sided  metamor- 
phoses of  commodities,  or,  in  other  words,  numerous  sales  and 
numerous  purchases.  The  commodities  are  equated  before- 
hand in  imagination,  by  their  prices,  to  definite  quantities  of 
money.  And  since,  in  the  form  of  circulation  now  under  con- 
sideration, money  and  commodities  always  come  bodily  face  to 
face,  one  at  the  positive  pole  of  purchase,  the  other  at  the 
negative  pole  of  sale,  it  is  clear  that  the  amount  of  the  means 
of  circulation  required,  is  determined  beforehand  by  the  sum  of 
the  prices  of  all  these  commodities.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  the 
money  in  reality  represents  the  quantity  or  sum  of  gold  ideally 
expressed  beforehand  by  the  sum  of  the  prices  of  the  com- 
modities. The  equality  of  these  two  sums  is  therefore  self- 
evident.  We  know,  however,  that,  the  values  of  commodities 
remaining  constant,  their  prices  vary  with  the  value  of  gold 
(the  material  of  money),  rising  in  proportion  as  it  falls,  and 
falling  in  proportion  as  it  rises.  Now  if,  in  consequence  of 
such  a  rise  or  fall  in  the  value  of  gold,  the  sum  of  the  prices  of 
commodities  fall  or  rise,  the  quantity  of  money  in  currency 
must  fall  or  rise  to  the  same  extent.  The  change  in  the 
quantity  of  the  circulating  medium  is,  in  this  case,  it  is  true, 
caused  by  money  itself,  yet  not  in  virtue  of  its  function 
as  a  medium  of  circulation,  but  of  its  function  as  a  measure  of 
value.  First,  the  price  of  the  commodities  varies  inversely 
as  the  value  of  the  money,  and  then  the  quantity  of  the 
medium  of  circulation  varies  directly  as  the  price  of  the 
commodities.  Exactly  the  same  thing  would  happen  if,  for 
instance,  instead  of  the  value  of  gold  falling,  gold  were  re- 
placed by  silver  as  the  measure  of  value,  or  if,  instead  of  the 
value  of  silver  rising,  gold  were  to  thrust  silver  out  from  being 
the  measure  of  value.  In  the  one  case,  more  silver  would  be 
current  than  gold  was  before;  in  the  other  case,  less  gold 
would  be  current  than  silver  was  before.  In  each  case  the 
"value  of  the  material  of  money,  i.e.,  the  value  of  the  com- 
inodity  that  serves  as  the  measure  of  value,  would  have  under- 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.       133 

gone  a  change,  and  therefore,  so,  too,  would  the  prices  of  com- 
modities which  express  their  values  in  money,  and  so,  too, 
would  the  quantity  of  money  current  whose  function  it  is  to 
realise  those  prices.  We  have  already  seen,  that  the  sphere  of 
circulation  has  an  opening  through  which  gold  (or  the  material 
of  money  generally )  enters  into  it  as  a  commodity  with  a  given 
value.  Hence,  when  money  enters  on  its  functions  as  a 
measure  of  value,  when  it  expresses  prices,  its  value  is  already 
determined.  If  now  its  value  fall,  this  fact  is  first  evidenced 
by  a  change  in  the  prices  of  those  commodities  that  are 
directly  bartered  for  the  precious  metals  at  the  sources  of 
their  production.  The  greater  part  of  all  other  commodities-, 
especially  in  the  imperfectly  developed  stages  of  civil  society, 
will  continue  for  a  long  time  to  be  estimated  by  the  former 
antiquated  and  illusory  value  of  the  measure  of  value. 
Nevertheless,  one  commodity  infects  another  through  their 
common  value-relation,  so  that  their  prices,  expressed  in  gold 
or  in  silver,  gradually  settle  down  into  the  proportions  deter- 
mined by  their  comparative  values,  until  finally  the  values  of 
all  commodities  are  estimated  in  terms  of  the  new  value  of  the 
metal  that  constitutes  money.  This  process  is  accompanied  by 
the  continued  increase  in  the  quantity  of  the  precious  metals, 
an  increase  caused  by  their  streaming  in  to  replace  the  articles 
directly  bartered  for  them  at  their  sources  of  production.  In 
proportion  therefore  as  commodities  in  general  acquire  their 
true  prices,  in  proportion  as  their  values  become  estimated 
according  to  the  fallen  value  of  the  precious  metal,  in  the 
same  proportion  the  quantity  of  that  metal  necessary  for  realis- 
ing those  new  prices  is  provided  beforehand.  A  one-sided 
observation  of  the  results  that  followed  upon  the  discovery  of 
fresh  supplies  of  gold  and  silver,  led  some  economists  in  the 
17th,  and  particularly  in  the  18th  century,  to  the  false  con- 
clusion, that  the  prices  of  commodities  had  gone  up  in  conse- 
quence of  the  increased  quantity  of  gold  and  silver  serving  as 
means  of  circulation.  Henceforth  we  shall  consider  the  value 
of  gold  to  be  given,  as,  in  fact,  it  is  momentarily  whenever  we 
estimate  the  price  of  a  commodity. 

On  this  supposition  then,  the  quantity  of  the  medium  of 

134  Capitalist  Production. 

circulation  is  determined  by  the  sum  of  the  prices  that  have  to 
be  realised.  If  now  we  further  suppose  the  price  of  each  com- 
modity to  be  given,  the  sum  of  the  prices  clearly  depends  on 
the  mass  of  commodities  in  circulation.  It  requires  but  little 
racking  of  brains  to  comprehend  that  if  one  quarter  of  wheat 
cost  £2,  100  quarters  will  cost  £200,  200  quarters  £400,  and 
so  on,  that  consequently  the  quantity  of  money  that  changes 
place  with  the  wheat,  when  sold,  must  increase  with  the  quan- 
tity of  that  wheat. 

If  the  mass  of  commodities  remain  constant,  the  quantity  of 
circulating  money  varies  with  the  fluctuations  in  the  prices  of 
those  commodities.  It  increases  and  diminishes  because  the 
sum  of  the  prices  increases  or  diminishes  in  consequence  of  the 
change  of  price.  To  produce  this  effect,  it  is  by  no  means 
requisite  that  the  prices  of  all  commodities  should  rise  or  fall 
simultaneously.  A  rise  or  a  fall  in  the  prices  of  a  number  of 
leading  articles,  is  sufficient  in  the  one  case  to  increase,  in  the 
other  to  diminish,  the  sum  of  the  prices  of  all  commodities, 
and,  therefore,  to  put  more  or  less  money  in  circulation. 
Whether  the  change  in  the  price  correspond  to  an  actual 
change  of  value  in  the  commodities,  or  whether  it  be  the  result 
of  mere  fluctuations  in  market  prices,  the  effect  on  the  quan- 
tity of  the  medium  of  circulation  remains  the  same. 

Suppose  the  following  articles  to  be  sold  or  partially  meta- 
morphosed simultaneously  in  different  localities:  say,  one 
quarter  of  wheat,  20  yards  of  linen,  one  Bible,  and  4  gallons  of 
brandy.  If  the  price  of  each  article  be  £2,  and  the  sum  of  the 
prices  to  be  realised  be  consequently  £8,  it  follows  that  £8  in 
money  must  go  into  circulation.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  these 
same  articles  are  links  in  the  following  chain  of  metamor- 
phoses: 1  quarter  of  wheat — £2 — 20  yards  of  linen — £2 — 1 
Bible — £2 — 4  gallons  of  brandy — £2,  a  chain  that  is  already 
well-known  to  us,  in  that  case  the  £2  cause  the  different  com- 
modities to  circulate  one  after  the  other,  and  after  realizing 
their  prices  successively,  and  therefore  the  sum  of  those  prices, 
£8,  they  come  to  rest  at  last  in  the  pocket  of  the  distiller. 
The  £2  thus  make  four  moves.  This  repeated  change  of  place 
of  the  same  pieces  of  money  corresponds  to  the  double  change 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.       1351 

in  form  of  the  commodities,  to  their  motion  in  opposite  direc- 
tions through  two  stages  of  circulation,  and  to  the  interlacing 
of  the  metamorphoses  of  different  commodities.1  These  anti- 
thetic and  complementary  phases,  of  which  the  process  of  met- 
amorphosis consists,  are  gone  through,  not  simultaneously,  but 
successively.  Time  is  therefore  required  for  the  completion  of 
the  series.  Hence  the  velocity  of  the  currency  of  money  is 
measured  by  the  number  of  moves  made  by  a  given  piece  of 
money  in  a  given  time.  Suppose  the  circulation  of  the  4  ar- 
ticles takes  a  day.  The  sum  of  the  prices  to  be  realised  in  the 
day  is  £8,  the  number  of  moves  of  the  two  pieces  of  money  is 
four,  and  the  quantity  of  money  circulating  is  £2.  Hence,  for 
a  given  interval  of  time  during  the  process  of  circulation,  we 
have  the  following  relation  :  the  quantity  of  money  functioning 
as  the  circulating  medium  is  equal  to  the  sum  of  the  prices  of 
the  commodities  divided  by  the  number  of  moves  made  by  coins 
of  the  same  denomination.     This  law  holds  generally. 

The  total  circulation  of  commodities  in  a  given  country 
during  a  given  period  is  made  up  on  the  one  hand  of  numerous 
isolated  and  simultaneous  partial  metamorphoses,  sales  which 
are  at  the  same  time  purchases,  in»  which  each  coin  changes  its 
place  only  once,  or  makes  only  one  move;  on  the  other  hand, 
of  numerous,  distinct  series  of  metamorphoses  partly  running 
side  by  side,  and  partly  coalescing  with  each  other,  in  each  of 
which  series  each  coin  makes  a  number  of  moves,  the  number 
being  greater  or  less  according  to  circumstances.  The  total 
number  of  moves  made  by  all  the  circulating  coins  of  one 
denomination  being  given,  we  can  arrive  at  the  average  num- 
ber of  moves  made  by  a  single  coin  of  that  denomination,  or  at 
the  average  velocity  of  the  currency  of  money.  The  quantity 
of  money  thrown  into  the  circulation  at  the  beginning  of  each, 
day  is  of  course  determined  by  the  sum  of  the  prices  of  all  the 
commodities  circulating  simultaneously  side  by  side.  But  once 
in  circulation,  coins  are,  so  to  say,  made  responsible  for  one 
another.     If  the  one  increase  its  velocity,   the  other  either 

1 "  Ce  sont  les  productions  qui  le  (l'argent)  mettent  en  mouvement  et  le  font 
circuler  .  .  .  La  celerite  de  son  mouvement  (sc.  de  l'argent)  supplee  a  sa  quantite. 
Lorsqu'il  en  est  besoin,  il  ne  fait  que  glisser  d'une  main  dans  l'autre  sans  s'arreter 
un  instant."     (Le  Trosne  1.  c.  pp.  915,  916.) 

136  Capitalist  Production. 

retards  its  own,  or  altogether  falls  out  of  circulation ;  for  the 
circulation  can  absorb  only  such  a  quantity  of  gold  as  when 
multiplied  by  the  mean  number  of  moves  made  by  one  single 
coin  or  element,  is  equal  to  the  sum  of  the  prices  to  be  real- 
ised. Hence  if  the  number  of  moves  made  by  the  separate 
pieces  increase,  the  total  number  of  those  pieces  in  circulation 
diminishes.  If  the  number  of  the  moves  diminish,  the  total 
number  of  pieces  increases.  Since  the  quantity  of  money  cap- 
able of  being  absorbed  by  the  circulation  is  given  for  a  given 
mean  velocity  of  currency,  all  that  is  necessary  in  order  to  ab- 
stract a  given  number  of  sovereigns  from  the  circulation  is  to 
throw  the  same  number  of  one-pound  notes  into  it,  a  trick  well 
known  to  all  bankers. 

Just  as  the  currency  of  money,  generally  considered,  is  but 
a  reflex  of  the  circulation  of  commodities,  or  of  the  antithetical 
metamorphoses  they  undergo,  so,  too,  the  velocity  of  that  cur- 
rency reflects  the  rapidity  with  which  commodities  change 
their  forms,  the  continued  interlacing  of  one  series  of  meta- 
morphoses with-  another,  the  hurried  social  interchange  of 
matter,  the  rapid  disappearance  of  commodities  from  the 
sphere  of  circulation,  and  the  equally  rapid  substitution  of 
fresh  ones  in  their  places.  Hence,  in  the  velocity  of  the  cur- 
rency we  have  the  fluent  unity  of  the  antithetical  and  com- 
plementary phases,  the  unity  of  the  conversion  of  the  useful 
aspect  of  commodities  into  their  value-aspect,  and  their  re-con- 
version from  the  latter  aspect  to  the  former,  or  the  unity  of  the 
two  processes  of  sale  and  purchase.  On  the  other  hand,  the 
retardation  of  the  currency  reflects  the  separation  of  these  two 
processes  into  isolated  antithetical  phases,  reflects  the  stagna- 
tion in  the  change  of  form,  and  therefore,  in  the  social  inter- 
change of  matter.  The  circulation  itself,  of  course,  gives  no 
clue  to  the  origin  of  this  stagnation ;  it  merely  puts  in  evidence 
the  phenomenon  itself.  The  general  public,  who,  simultane- 
ously, with  the  retardation  of  the  currency,  see  money  appear 
and  disappear  less  frequently  at  the  periphery  of  circulation, 
naturally  attribute  this  retardation  to  a  quantitive  deficiency 
in  the  circulating  medium.1. 

1  Money  being     .  .  .  the  common  measure  of  buying  and  selling,  every  body  who 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.        137 

The  total  quantity  of  money  functioning  during  a  given 
period  as  the  circulating  medium,  is  determined,  on  the  one 
hand,  by  the  sum  of  the  prices  of  the  circulating  commodities, 
and  on  the  other  hand,  by  the  rapidity  with  which  the  anti- 
thetical phases  of  the  metamorphoses  follow  one  another.  On 
this  rapidity  depends  what  proportion  of  the  sum  of  the  prices 
can,  on  the  average,  be  realised  by  each  single  coin.  But  the 
sum  of  the  prices  of  the  circulating  commodities  depends  on 
the  quantity,  as  well  as  on  the  prices,  of  the  commodities. 
These  three  factors,  however,  state  of  prices,  quantity  of  circu- 
lating commodities,  and  velocity  of  money-currency,  are  all 
variable.  Hence,  the  sum  of  the  prices  to  be  realised,  and 
consequently  the  quantity  of  the  circulating  medium  depend- 
ing on  that  sum,  will  vary  with  the  numerous  variations  of 
these  three  factors  in  combination.  Of  these  variations  we 
shall  consider  those  alone  that  have  been  the  most  important 
in  the  history  of  prices. 

While  prices  remain  constant,  the  quantity  of  the  circulat- 
ing medium  may  increase  owing  to  the  number  of  circulating 
commodities  increasing,  or  to  the  velocity  of  currency  decreasr 
ing,  or  to  a  combination  of  the  two.     On  the  other  hand  the 

hath  anything  to  sell,  and  cannot  procure  chapmen  for  it,  is  presently  apt  to  think, 
that  want  of  money  in  the  kingdom,  or  country,  is  the  cause  why  his  goods  do  not 
go  off;  and  so,  want  of  money  is  the  common  cry;  which  is  a  great  mistake.  .  . 
What  do  these  people  want,  who  cry  out  for  money?  .  .  .  The  farmer  complains 
...  he  thinks  that  were  more  money  in  the  country,  he  should  have  a  price  for  his 
goods.  Then  it  seems  money  is  not  his  want,  but  a  price  for  his  corn  and  cattel, 
which  he  would  sell,  but  cannot.  .  .  Why  cannot  he  get  a  price?  ...  (1)  Either 
there  is  too  much  corn  and  cattel  in  the  country,  so  that  most  who  come  to  market 
have  need  of  selling,  as  he  hath,  and  few  of  buying;  or  (2)  There  wants  the  usual 
vent  abroad  by  transportation.  .  .  ;  or  (3)  The  consumption  fails,  as  when  men, 
by  reason  of  poverty,  do  not  spend  so  much  in  their  houses  as  formerly  they  did; 
wherefore  it  is  not  the  increase  of  specific  money,  which  would  at  all  advance  the 
farmer's  goods,  but  the  removal  of  any  of  these  three  causes,  which  do  truly  keep 
down  the  market.  .  .  .  The  merchant  and  shopkeeper  want  money  in  the  same 
manner,  that  is,  they  want  a  vent  for  the  goods  they  deal  in,  by  reason  that  the 
markets  fail  "...  [A  nation]  "  never  thrives  better,  than  when  riches  are  tost 
from  hand  to  hand."  (Sir  Dudley  North:  "  Discourses  upon  Trade,"  Lond.  1691, 
pp.  11-15,  passim.)  Herrenschwand's  fanciful  notions  amount  merely  to  this,  that 
the  antagonism,  which  has  its  origin  in  the  nature  of  commodities,  and  is  repro- 
duced in  their  circulation,  can  be  removed  by  increasing  the  circulating  medium. 
But  if,  on  the  one  hand,  it  is  a  popular  delusion  to  ascribe  stagnation  in  production 
and  circulation  to  insufficiency  of  the  circulating  medium,  it  by  no  means  follows, 
on  the  other  hand,  that  an  actual  paucity  of  the  medium  in  consequence,  e.g.,  of 
bungling  legislative  interference  with  the  regulation  of  currency,  may  not  give  rise 
to    such    stagnation. 

238  Capitalist  Production. 

quantity  of  the  circulating  medium  may  decrease  with  a 
decreasing  number  of  commodities,  or  with  an  increasing 
rapidity  of  their  circulation. 

With  a  general  rise  in  the  prices  of  commodities,  the  quan- 
tity of  the  circulating  medium  will  remain  constant,  provided 
the  number  of  commodities  in*  the  circulation  decrease  propor- 
tionally to  the  increase  in  their  prices,  or  provided  the  velocity 
of  currency  increase  at  the  same  rate  as  prices  rise,  the  number 
of  commodities  in  circulation  remaining  constant.  The  quan- 
tity of  the  circulating  medium  may  decrease,  owing  to  the  num- 
ber of  commodities  decreasing  more  rapidly ;  or  to  the  veloc- 
ity of  currency  increasing  more  rapidly,  than  prices  rise. 

With  a  general  fall  in  the  prices  of  commodities,  the  quantity 
of  the  circulating  medium  will  remain  constant,  provided  the 
number  of  commodities  increase  proportionately  to  their  fall  in 
price,  or  provided  the  velocity  of  currency  decrease  in  the  same 
proportion.  The  quantity  of  the  circulating  medium  will 
increase,  provided  the  number  of  commodities  increase  quicker, 
or  the  rapidity  of  circulation  decrease  quicker,  than  the  prices 

The  variations  of  the  different  factors  may  mutually  compen- 
sate each  other,  so  that  notwithstanding  their  continued  in- 
stability, the  sum  of  the  prices  to  be  realised  and  the  quantity 
of  money  in  circulation  remains  constant;  consequently,  we 
find,  especially  if  we  take  long  periods  into  consideration,  that 
the  deviations  from  the  average  level,  of  the  quantity  of  money 
current  in  any  country,  are  much  smaller  than  we  should  at 
first  sight  expect,  apart  of  course  from  excessive  perturbations 
periodically  arising  from  industrial  and  commercial  crises,  or, 
less  frequently,  from  fluctuations  in  the  value  of  money. 

The  law,  that  the  quantity  of  the  circulating  medium  is 
determined  by  the  sum  of  the  prices  of  the  commodities 
circulating,  and  the  average  velocity  of  currency1  may  also  be 

1 "  There  is  a  certain  measure  and  proportion  of  money  requisite  to  drive  the 
trade  of  a  nation,  more  or  less  than  which  would  prejudice  the  same.  Just  as  there 
is  a  certain  proportion  of  farthings  necessary  in  a  small  retail  trade,  to  change  sil- 
ver money,  and  to  even  such  reckonings  as  cannot  be  adjusted  with  the  smallest 
silver  pieces.  .  .  .  Now,  as  the  proportion  of  the  number  of  farthings  requisite 
in  commerce  is  to  be   taken   from  the  number  of  people,   the   frequency  of   their 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.       139 

stated  as  follows :  given  the  sum  of  the  values  of  commodities, 
and  the  average  rapidity  of  their  metamorphoses,  the1  quantity 
of  precious  metal  current  as  money  depends  on  the  value  of 
that  precious  metal.  The  erroneous  opinion  that  it  is,  on  the 
contrary,  prices  that  are  determined  by  the  quantity  of  the 
circulating  medium,  and  that  the  latter  depends  on  the 
quantity  of  the  precious  metals  in  a  country  ;*  this  opinion  was 
based  by  those  who  first  beheld  it,  on  the  absurd  hypothesis  that 
commodities  are  without  a  price,  and  money  without  a  value, 
when  they  first  enter  into  circulation,  and  that,  once  in  the 
circulation,  an  aliquot  part  of  the  medley  of  commodities  is 
exchanged  for  an  aliquot  part  of  the  heap  of  precious  metals.2 

exchanges:  as  also,  and  principally,  from  the  value  of  the  smallest  silver  pieces  of 
money;  so  in  like  manner,  the  proportion  of  money  [gold  and  silver  specie]  requis- 
ite in  our  trade,  is  to  be  likewise  taken  from  the  frequency  of  commutations,  and 
from  the  bigness  of  the  payments."  (William  Petty.  "  A  Treatise  on  Taxes  and 
Contributions."  Lond.  1662,  p.  17.)  The  Theory  of  Hume  was  defended  against 
the  attacks  of  J.  Steuart  and  others,  by  A.  Young,  in  his  '"  Political  Arithmetic," 
Lond.  1774,  in  which  work  there  is  a  special  chapter  entitled  "  Prices  depend  on 
quantity  of  money,"  at  p.  112,  sqq.  I  have  stated  in  "Critique,  &c,"  p.  232: 
"  He  (Adam  Smith)  passes  over  without  remark  the  question  as  to  the  quantity 
of  coin  in  circulation,  and  treats  money  quite  wrongly  as  a  mere  commodity." 
This  statement  applies  only  in  so  far  as  Adam  Smith,  ex  officio,  treats  of  money. 
Now  and  then,  however,  as  in  his  criticism  of  the  earlier  systems  of  political 
economy,  he  takes  the  right  view.  "  The  quantity  of  coin  in  every  country  is 
regulated  by  the  value  of  the  commodities  which  are  to  be  circulated  by  it.  .  .  . 
The  value  of  the  goods  annually  bought  and  sold  in  any  country  requires  a  certain 
quantity  of  money  to  circulate  and  distribute  them  to  their  proper  consumers,  and 
can  give  employment  to  no  more.  The  channel  of  circulation  necessarily  draws  to 
itself  a  sum  sufficient  to  fill  it,  and  never  admits  any  more."  ("  Wealth  of  Na- 
tions." Bk.  IV.,  ch.  I.)  In  like  manner,  ex  officio,  he  opens  his  work  with  an 
apotheosis  on  the  division  of  labour.  Afterwards,  in  the  last  book  which  treats 
of  the  sources  of  public  revenue,  he  occasionally  repeats  the  denunciations  of  the 
division   of   labour   made  by   his   teacher,   A.    Ferguson. 

1  "The  prices  of  things  will  certainly  rise  in  every  nation,  as  the  gold  and  silver 
increase  amongst  the  people;  and  consequently,  where  the  gold  and  silver  de- 
crease in  any  nation,  the  prices  of  all  things  must  fall  proportionably  to  such 
decrease  of  money."  (Jacob  Vanderlint:  "Money  answers  all  Things."  Lond. 
1734,  p.  5.)  A  careful  comparison  of  this  book  with  Hume's  "Essays,"  proves 
to  my  mind  without  doubt  that  Hume  was  acquainted  with  and  made  use  of  Van- 
derlint's  Svork,  which  is  certainly  an  important  one.  The  opinion  that  prices  are 
determined  by  the  quantity  of  the  circulating  medium,  was  also  held  by  Barbon 
and  other  much  earlier  writers.  "  No  inconvenience,"  says  Vanderlint,  "  can  arise 
by  an  unrestrained  trade,  but  very  great  advantage;  since,  if  the  cash  of  the  na- 
tion be  decreased  by  it,  which  prohibitions  are  designed  to  prevent,  those  nations 
that  get  the  cash  will  certainly  find  everything  advance  in  price,  as  the  cash  in- 
creases amongst  them.  And  .  .  .  our  manufactures,  and  everything  else,  will 
soon  become  so  moderate  as  to  turn  the  balance  of  trade  in  our  favour,  and 
thereby   fetch  the  money  back  again."      (1.  c,   pp.   43,  44.) 

2  That  the  price  of  each  single  kind  of  commodity  forms  part  of  the  sum  of  th« 

140  Capitalist  Production. 

c.   Coin  and  symbols  of  value. 

That  money  takes  the  shape  of  coin,  springs  from  its  function 
as  the  circulating  medium.  The  weight  of  gold  represented  in 
imagination  by  the  prices  or  money-names  of  commodities, 
must  confront  those  commodities,  within  the  circulation,  in 
the  shape  of  coins  or  pieces  of  gold  of  a  given  denomination. 
Coining,  like  the  establishment  of  a  standard  of  prices,  is  the 
business  of  the  State.  The  different  national  uniforms  worn 
at  home  by  gold  and  silver  as  coins,  and  doffed  again  in  the 
market  of  the  world,  indicate  the  separation  between  the 
internal  or  national  spheres  of  the  circulation  of  commodities, 
and  their  universal  sphere. 

The  only  difference,  therefore,  between  coin  and  bullion,  is 
one  of  shape,  and  gold  can  at  any  time  pass  from  one  form  to 

prices  of  all  the  commodities  in  circulation,  is  a  self-evident  proposition.  But  how 
use-values,  which  are  incommensurable  with  regard  to  each  other,  are  to  be  ex- 
changed, en  masse,  for  the  total  sum  of  gold  and  silver  in  a  country,  is  quite 
incomprehensible.  If  we  start  from  the  notion  that  all  commodities  together  form 
one  single  commodity,  of  which  each  is  but  an  aliquot  part,  we  get  the  following 
beautiful  result:  The  total  commodity  =  x  cwt.  of  gold;  commodity  A  =  an  aliquot 
part  of  the  total  commodity  =  the  same  aliquot  part  of  x  cwt.  of  gold.  This  is 
stated  in  all  seriousness  by  Montesquieu:  "  Si  Ton  compare  la  masse  de  l'or  et  de 
l'argent  qui  est  dans  le  monde  avec  la  somme  des  marchandises  qui  y  sont,  il  est 
certain  que  chaque  denree  ou  marchandise,  en  particulier,  pourra  etre  comparee  a 
une  certaine  portion  de  le  masse  entiere.  Supposons  qu'il  n'y  ait  qu'une  seule 
denree  ou  marchandise  dans  le  monde,  ou  qu'il  n'y  ait  qu'une  seule  qui  s'achete, 
et  qu'elle  se  divise  comme  l'argent:  Cette  partie  de  cette  marchandise  repondra 
a  une  partie  de  la  masse  de  l'argent;  la  moitie  du  total  de  l'une  a  la  moitie  du 
total  de  l'autre,  &c.  .  .  .  l'etablissement  du  prix  des  choses  depend  toujours 
fondamentalement  de  la  raison  du  total  des  choses  au  total  des  signes."  (Montes- 
quieu 1.  c.  t  III.,  pp.  122,  13.)  As  to  the  further  development  of  this  theory 
by  Ricardo  and  his  disciples,  James  Mill,  Lord  Overstone,  and  others,  see 
"Critique  of  Political  Economy,"  pp.  235,  ff.  John  Stuart  Mill,  with  his  usual 
eclectic  logic,  understands  how  to  hold  at  the  same  time  the  view  of  his  father, 
James  Mill,  and  the  opposite  view.  On  a  comparison  of  the  text  of  his  compen- 
dium, "Principles  of  Pol.  Econ.,"  with  his  preface  to  the  first  edition,  in  which 
preface  he  announces  himself  as  the  Adam  Smith  of  his  day  — ■  we  do  not  know 
whether  to  admire  more  the  simplicity  of  the  man,  or  that  of  the  public,  who  took 
him,  in  good  faith,  for  the  Adam  Smith  he  announced  himself  to  be,  although 
he  bears  about  as  much  resemblance  to  Adam  Smith  as  say  General  Williams,  of 
Kars,  to  the  Duke  of  Wellington.  The  original  researches  of  Mr.  J.  S.  Mill,  which 
are  neither  extensive  nor  profound,  in  the  domain  of  political  economy,  will  be 
found  mustered  in  rank  and  file  in  his  little  work,  "  Some  Unsettled  Questions  of 
Political  Economy,"  which  appeared  in  1844.  Locke  asserts  point  blank  the  con- 
nexion between  the  absence  of  value  in  gold  and  silver,  and  the  determination  of 
their  values  by  quantity  alone,  "Mankind  having  consented  to  put  an  imaginary 
value  upon  gold  and  silver  .  .  .  the  intrinsik  value,  regarded  in  these  metals, 
is  nothing  but  the  quantity."  ("Some  considerations,"  &c,  1691,  Works  Ed.  1777, 
vol.    II.,    j>.    IS.'* 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.       141 

tEe  other.1  But  no  sooner  does  coin  leave  the  mint,  than  it 
immediately  finds  itself  on  the  high-road  to  the  melting  pot. 
During  their  currency,  coins  wear  away,  some  more,  others 
less.  Name  and  substance,  nominal  weight  and  real  weight, 
begin  their  process  of  separation.  Coins  of  the  same  denom- 
ination become  different  in  value,  because  they  are  different  in 
weight.  The  weight  of  gold  fixed  upon  as  the  standard  of 
prices,  deviates  from  the  weight  that  serves  as  the  circulating 
medium,  and  the  latter  thereby  ceases  any  longer  to  be  a  real 
equivalent  of  the  commodities  whose  prices  it  realises.  The 
history  of  coinage  during  the  middle  ages  and  down  into  the 
18th  century,  records  the  ever  renewed  confusion  arising  from 
this  cause.  The  natural  tendency  of  circulation  to  convert 
coins  into  a  mere  semblance  of  what, they  profess  to  be,  into  a 
symbol  of  the  weight  of  metal  they  are  officially  supposed  to 
contain,  is  recognised  by  modern  legislation,  which  fixes  the 
loss  of  weight  sufficient  to  demonetise  a  gold  coin,  or  to  make 
it  no  longer  legal  tender. 

The  fact  that  the  currency  of  coins  itself  effects  a  separation 
between  their  nominal  and  their  real  weight,  creating  a  dis- 
tinction between  them  as  mere  pieces  of  metal  on  the  one  hand, 
and  as  coins  with  a  definite  function  on  the  other — this  fact 
implies  the  latent  possibility  of  replacing  metallic  coins  by 
tokens  of  some  other  material,  by  symbols  serving  the  same 
purposes  as  coins.  The  practical  difficulties  in  the  way  of 
coining  extremely  minute  quantities  of  gold  or  silver,  and  the 
circumstance  that  at  first  the  less  precious  metal  is  used  as  a 
measure  of  value  instead  of  the  more  precious,  copper  instead 

1  It  lies,  of  course,  entirely  beyond  my  purpose  to  take  into  consideration  such 
details  as  the  seigniorage  on  minting.  I  will,  however,  cite  for  the  benefit  of  the 
romantic  sycophant,  Adam  Midler,  who  admires  the  "  generous  liberality "  with 
which  the  English  Government  coins  gratuitously,  the  following  opinion  of  Sir 
Dudley  North :  "  Silver  and  gold,  like  other  commodities,  have  their  ebbings  and 
Sowings.  Upon  the  arrival  of  quantities  from  Spain  .  .  .  it  is  carried  into  the 
Tower,  and  coined.  Not  long  after  there  will  come  a  demand  for  bullion  to  be 
exported  again.  If  there  is  none,  but  all  happens  to  be  in  coin,  what  then?  Melt 
it  down  again;  there's  no  loss  in  it,  for  the  coining  costs  the  owner  nothing.  Thus 
the  nation  has  been  abused,  and  made  to  pay  for  the  twisting  of  straw  for  asses 
to  eat.  If  the  merchant  were  made  to  pay  the  price  of  the  coinage,  he  would 
not  have  sent  his  silver  to  the  Tower  without  consideration;  and  coined  money 
would  always  keep  a  value  above  uncoined  silver."  (North,  I.  c,  p.  18.)  North 
was  himself  one  of  the  foremost  merchants  in  the  reign  of  Charles  II. 

142  Capitalist  Production. 

of  silver,  silver  instead  of  gold,  and  that  the  less  precious 
circulates  as  money  until  dethroned  by  the  more  precious — all 
these  facts  explain  the  parts  historically  played  by  silver  and 
copper  tokens  as  substitutes  for  gold  coins.  Silver  and  copper 
tokens  take  the  place  of  gold  in  those  regions  of  the  circulation 
where  coins  pass  from  hand  to  hand  most  rapidly,  and  are  sub- 
ject to  the  maximum  amount  of  wear  and  tear.  This  occurs 
where  sales  and  purchases  on  a  very  small  scale  are  continually 
happening.  In  order  to  prevent  these  satellites  from  establish- 
ing themselves  permanently  in  the  place  of  gold,  positive 
enactments  determine  the  extent  to  which  they  must  be  com- 
pulsorily  received  as  payment  instead  of  gold.  The  particular 
tracks  pursued  by  the  different  species  of  coin  in  currency,  run 
naturally  into  each  other.  The  tokens  keep  company  with 
gold,  to  pay  fractional  parts  of  the  smallest  gold  coin ;  gold  is, 
on  the  one  hand,  constantly  pouring  into  retail  circulation,  and 
on  the  other  hand  is  as  constantly  being  thrown  out  again  by 
being  changed  into  tokens.1 

The  weight  of  metal  in  the  silver  and  copper  tokens  is 
arbitrarily  fixed  by  law.  When  in  currency,  they  wear  away 
even  more  rapidly  than  gold  coins.  Hence  their  functions 
are  totally  independent  of  their  weight,  and  consequently  of  all 
value.  The  function  of  gold  as  coin  becomes  completely  inde- 
pendent of  the  metallic  value  of  that  gold.  Therefore  things 
that  are  relatively  without  value,  such  as  paper  notes,  can 
serve  as  coins  in  its  place.  This  purely  symbolic  character  is 
to  a  certain  extent  masked  in  metal  tokens.  In  paper  money 
it  stands  out  plainly.  In  fact,  ce  n'est  oue  le  premier  pas  qui 

We  allude  here  only  to  inconvertible  paper  money  issued  by 

1  If  silver  never  exceed  what  is  wanted  for  the  smaller  payments,  it  cannot  be 
collected  in  sufficient  quantities  for  the  larger  payments  .  .  .  the  use  ot  gold  in 
the  main  payments  necessarily  implies  also  its  use  in  the  retail  trade:  those  who 
have  gold  coin  offering  them  for  small  purchases,  and  receiving  with  the  com- 
modity purchased  a  balance  of  silver  in  return;  by  which  means  the  surplus  of 
silver  that  would  otherwise  encumber  the  retail  dealer,  is  drawn  off  and  dis- 
persed into  general  circulation.  But  if  there  is  as  much  silver  as  will  transact 
the  small  payments  independent  of  gold,  the  retail  trader  must  then  receive  silver 
for  small  purchases;  and  it  must  of  necessity  accumulate  in  his  hands."  (David 
Buchanan.  "  Inquiry  into  the  Taxation  and  Commercial  Policy  of  Great  Britain.'* 
Edinburgh,  1844,  pp.  248,  249.) 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.       143 

the  State  and  having  compulsory  circulation.  It  has  its 
immediate  origin  in  the  metallic  currency.  Money  based  upon 
credit  implies  on  the  other  hand  conditions,  which  from  our 
standpoint  of  the  simple  circulation  of  commodities,  are  as  yet 
totally  unknown  to  us.  But  we  may  affirm  this  much,  that 
just  as  true  paper  money  takes  its  rise  in  the  function  of  money 
as  the  circulating  medium,  so  money  based  upon  credit  takes 
root  spontaneously  in  the  function  of  money  as  the  means  of 

The  State  puts  in  circulation  bits  of  paper  on  which  their 
various  denominations,  say  £1,  £5,  &c,  are  printed.  In  so  far 
as  they  actually  take  the  place  of  gold  to  the  same  amount, 
their  movement  is  subject  to  the  laws  that  regulate  the  currency 
of  money  itself.  A  law  peculiar  to  the  circulation  of  paper 
money  can  spring  up  only  from  the  proportion  in  which  that 
paper  money  represents  gold.  Such  a  law  exists;  stated 
simply,  it  is  as  follows:  the  issue  of  paper  money  must  not 
exceed  in  amount  the  gold  (or  silver  as  the  case  may  be)  which 
would  actually  circulate  if  not  replaced  by  symbols.  Now  the 
quantity  of  gold  which  the  circulation  can  absorb,  constantly 
fluctuates  about  a  given  level.  Still,  the  mass  of  the  circulat- 
ing medium  in  a  given  country  never  sinks  below  a  certain 
minimum  easily  ascertained  by  actual  experience.  The  fact 
that  this  minimum  mass  continually  undergoes  changes  in  its 
constituent  parts,  or  that  the  pieces  of  gold  of  which  it  consists 
are  being  constantly  replaced  by  fresh  ones,  causes  of  course  no 
change  either  in  its  amount  or  in  the  continuity  of  its  circula- 

1  The  mandarin  Wan-mao-in,  the  Chinese  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer,  took  it 
into  his  head  one  day  to  lay  before  the  Son  of  Heaven  a  proposal  that  secretly 
aimed  at  converting  the  assignats  of  the  empire  into  convertible  bank  notes.  The 
assignats  Committee,  in  its  report  of  April,  1854,  gives  him  a  severe  snub- 
bing. Whether  he  also  received  the  traditional  drubbing  with  bamboos  is  not 
stated.  The  concluding  part  of  the  report  is  as  follows: — "The  Committee  has 
carefully  examined  his  proposal  and  finds  that  it  is  entirely  in  favour  of  the 
merchants,  and  that  no  advantage  will  result  to  the  crown."  (Arbeiten  der 
Kaiserlich  Russischen  Gesandtschaft  zu  Peking  fiber  China.  Aus  dem  Russischen 
von  Dr.  K.  Abel  und  F.  A.  Mecklenburg.  Erster  Band.  Berlin,  1858,  pp.  47,  59.) 
In  his  evidence  before  the  Committee  of  the  House  of  Lords  on  the  Bank  Acts,  a 
governor  of  the  Bank  of  England  says  with  regard  to  the  abrasion  of  gold  coins  dur- 
ing currency:  "Every  year  a  fresh  class  of  sovereigns  becomes  too  light.  The  class 
which  one  year  passes  with  full  weight,  loses  enough  by  wear  and  tear  to  draw  the 
scales  next  year  against  it."     (House  of  Lords'  Committee,  1848,  n.   429.) 

144  Capitalist  Production. 

tion.  It  can  therefore  be  replaced  by  paper  symbols.  If,  on 
the  other  hand,  all  the  conduits  of  circulation  were  to-day  filled 
with  paper  money  to  the  full  extent  of  their  capacity  for 
absorbing  money,  they  might  to-morrow  be  overflowing  in 
consequence  of  a  fluctuation  in  the  circulation  of  commodities. 
There  would  no  longer  be  any  standard.  If  the  paper  money 
exceed  its  proper  limit,  which  is  the  amount  of  gold  coins  of 
the  like  denomination  that  can  actually  be  current,  it  would, 
apart  from  the  danger  of  falling  into  general  disrepute,  re- 
present only  that  quantity  of  gold,  which,  in  accordance  with 
the  laws  of  the  circulation  of  commodities,  is  required,  and  is 
alone  capable  of  being  represented  by  paper.  If  the  quantity 
of  paper  money  issued  be  double  what  it  ought  to  be,  then,  as 
a  matter  of  fact,  £1  would  be  the  money-name  not  of  £  of  an 
ounce,  but  of  -J  of  an  ounce  of  gold.  The  effect  would  be  the 
same  as  if  an  alteration  had  taken  place  in  the  function  of  gold 
as  a  standard  of  prices.  Those  values  that  were  previously 
expressed  by  the  price  of  £1  would  now  be  expressed  by  the 
price  of  £2. 

Paper-money  is  a  token  representing  gold  or  money.  The 
relation  between  it  and  the  values  of  commodities  is  this,  that 
the  latter  are  ideally  expressed  in  the  same  quantities  of  gold 
that  are  symbolically  represented  by  the  paper.  Only  in  so 
far  as  paper-money  represents  gold,  which  like  all  other  com- 
modities has  value,  is  it  a  symbol  of  value.1 

Finally,  some  one  may  ask  why  gold  is  capable  of  being 
replaced  by  tokens  that  have  no  value  ?  But,  as  we  have 
already  seen,  it  is  capable  of  being  so  replaced  only  in  so  far 
as    it    functions   exclusively   as   coin,    or   as   the   circulating 

1  The  following  passage  from  Fullarton  shows  the  want  of  clearness  on  the  part 
of  even  the  best  writers  on  money,  in  their  comprehension  of  its  various  func- 
tions: "  That,  as  far  as  concerns  our  domestic  exchanges,  all  the  monetary  func- 
tions which  are  usually  performed  by  gold  and  silver  coins,  may  be  performed  as 
effectually  by  a  circulation  of  inconvertible  notes,  having  no  value  but  that 
factitious  and  conventional  value  they  derive  from  the  law,  is  a  fact  which  admits, 
I  conceive,  of  no  denial.  Value  of  this  description  may  be  made  to  answer  all  the 
purposes  of  intrinsic  value,  and  supersede  even  the  necessity  for  a  standard,  pro- 
vided only  the  quantity  of  issues  be  kept  under  due  limitation."  (Fullarton: 
"Regulation  of  Currencies,"  London,  p.  210.)  Because  the  commodity  that 
serves  as  money  is  capable  of  being  replaced  in  circulation  by  mere  symbols  of 
value,  therefore  its  functions  as  a  measure  of  value  and  a  standard  of  prices  are 
declared   to    be   superfluous. 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.      145 

medium,  and  as  nothing  else.  Now,  money  has  other  functions 
besides  this  one,  and  the  isolated  function  of  serving  as  the 
mere  circulating  medium  is  not  necessarily  the  only  one 
attached  to  gold  coin,  although  this  is  the  case  with  those 
abraded  coins  that  continue  to  circulate.  Each  piece  of  money 
is  a  mere  coin,  or  means  of  circulation,  only  so  long  as  it  ac- 
tually circulates.  But  this  is  just  the  case  with  that  minimum 
mass  of  gold,  which  is  capable  of  being  replaced  by  paper- 
money.  That  mass  remains  constantly  within  the  sphere  of 
circulation,  continually  functions  as  a  circulating  medium,  and 
exists  exclusively  for  that  purpose.  Its  movement  therefore 
represents  nothing  but  the  continued  alternation  of  the  inverse 
phases  of  the  metamorphosis  C — M — C,  phases  in  which  com- 
modities confront  their  value-forms,  only  to  disappear  again 
immediately.  The  independent  existence  of  the  exchange 
value  of  a  commodity  is  here  a  transient  apparition,  by  means 
of  which  the  commodity  is  immediately  replaced  by  another 
commodity.  Hence,  in  this  process  which  continually  makes 
money  pass  from  hand  to  hand,  the  mere  symbolical  existence 
of  money  suffices.  Its  functional  existence  absorbs,  so  to  say, 
its  material  existence.  Being  a  transient  and  objective  reflex 
of  the  prices  of  commodities,  it  serves  only  as  a  symbol  of  itself, 
and  is  therefore  capable  of  being  replaced  by  a  token.1  One 
thing  is,  however,  requisite ;  this  token  must  have  an  objective 
social  validity  of  its  own,  and  this  the  paper  symbol  acquires 
by  its  forced  currency.  This  compulsory  action  of  the 
State  can^take  effect  only  within  that  inner  sphere  of  circula- 
tion which  is  co-terminous  with  the  territories  of  the  com- 
munity, but  it  is  also  only  within  that  sphere  that  money 
completely  responds  to  its  function  of  being  the  circulating 
medium,  or  becomes  coin. 

1  From  the  fact  that  gold  and  silver,  so  far  as  they  are  coins,  or  exclusively 
serve  as  the  medium  of  circulation,  become  mere  tokens  of  themselves,  Nicholas 
Barbon  deduces  the  right  of  Governments  "  to  raise  money,"  that  is,  to  give  to  the 
weight  of  silver  that  is  called  a  shilling  the  name  of  a  greater  weight,  such  as  a 
crown;  and  so  to  pay  creditors  shillings,  instead  of  crowns.  "  Money  does  wear 
and  grow  lighter  by  often  telling  over  ...  It  is  the  denomination  and  cur- 
rency of  the  money  that  men  regard  in  bargaining,  and  not  the  quantity  of  silver 
.  .  .  'Tis  the  public  authority  upon  the  metal  that  makes  it  money."  (N. 
Barbon,  L  c,  pp.  29,  30,  25.) 


146  Capitalist  Production. 


The  commodity  that  functions  as  a  measure  of  value,  and, 
either  in  its  own  person  or  by  a  representative,  as  the  medium 
of  circulation,  is  money.  Gold  (or  silver)  is  therefore  money. 
It  functions  as  money,  on  the  one  hand,  when  it  has  to  be 
present  in  its  own  golden  person.  It  is  then  the  money-com- 
modity, neither  merely  ideal,  as  in  its  function  of  a  measure 
of  value,  nor  capable  of  being  represented,  as  in  its  function  of 
circulating  medium.  On  the  other  hand,  it  also  functions  as 
money,  when  by  virtue  of  its  function,  whether  that  function 
be  performed  in  person  or  by  representative,  it  congeals  into  the 
sole  form  of  value,  the  only  adequate  form  of  existence  of 
exchange-value,  in  opposition  to  use-value,  represented  by  all 
other  commodities. 

a.  Hoarding. 

The  continual  movement  in  circuits  of  the  two  antithetical 
metamorphoses  of  commodities,  or  the  never  ceasing  alternation 
of  sale  and  purchase,  is  reflected  in  the  restless  currency  of 
money,  or  in  the  function  that  money  performs  of  a  perpetuum 
mobile  of  circulation.  But  so  soon  as  the  series  of  metamor- 
phoses is  interrupted,  so  soon  as  sales  are  not  supplemented  by 
subsequent  purchases,  money  ceases  to  be  mobilised ;  it  is  trans- 
formed,  as  Boisguillebert  says,  from  "meuble"  into  "im- 
meuble,"  from  movable  into  immovable,  from  coin  into 

With  the  very  earliest  development  of  the  circulation  of 
commodities,  there  is  also  developed  the  necessity,  and  the 
passionate  desire,  to  hold  fast  the  product  of  the  first  metamor- 
phosis. This  product  is  the  transformed  shape  of  the  com- 
modity, or  its  gold-chrysalis.1  Commodities  are  thus  sold  not 
for  the  purpose  of  buying  others,  but  in  order  to  replace  their 
commodity-form  by  their  money-form.  From  being  the  mere 
means  of  effecting  the  circulation  of  commodities,  this  change 
of  form  becomes  the  end  and  aim.  The  changed  form  of  the 
commodity  is  thus  prevented  from  functioning  as  its  uncondi- 

1  "Une  richesse  en  argent  n'est  que  .  .  .  richesse  en  productions,  convertie? 
tn  argent."  (Mercier  de  la  Riviere,  1.  c.)  "Une  valeur  en  productions  n't 
fait  que  changer  de   forme."       (Id.,  p.   486.) 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.       147 

tionally  alienable  form^  or  as  its  merely  transient  money-form. 
The  money  becomes  petrified  into  a  hoard,  and  the  seller 
becomes  a  hoarder  of  money. 

In  the  early  stages  of  the  circulation  of  commodities,  it  is 
the  surplus  use-values  alone  that  are  converted  into  money. 
Gold  and  silver  thus  become  of  themselves  social  expressions 
for  superfluity  of  wealth.  This  naive  form  of  hoarding  be- 
comes perpetuated  in  those  communities  in  which  the  tra- 
ditional mode  of  production  is  carried  on  for  the  supply  of  a 
fixed  and  limited  circle  of  home  wants.  It  is  thus  with  the 
people  of  Asia,  and  particularly  of  the  East  Indies.  Vander- 
lint,  who  fancies  that  the  prices  of  commodities  in  a  country 
are  determined  by  the  quantity  of  gold  and  silver  to  be  found 
in  it,  asks  himself  why  Indian  commodities  are  so  cheap.  An- 
swer: Because  the  Hindoos  bury  their  money.  From  1602  to 
1734,  he  remarks,  they  buried  150  millions  of  pounds  sterling 
of  silver,  which  originally  came  from  America  to  Europe.1 
In  the  10  years  from  1856  to  1866,  England  exported  to  India 
and  China  £120,000,000  in  silver,  which  had  been  received  in 
exchange  for  Australian  gold.  Most  of  the  silver  exported  to 
China  makes  its  way  to  India. 

As  the  production  of  commodities  further  develops,  every 
producer  of  commodities  is  compelled  to  make  sure  of  the 
nexus  rerum  or  the  social  pledge.2  His  wants  are  constantly 
making  themselves  felt,  and  necessitate  the  continual  purchase 
of  other  people's  commodities,  while  the  production  and  sale  of 
his  own  goods  require  time,  and  depend  upon  circumstances. 
In  order  then  to  be  able  to  buy  without  selling,  he  must  have 
sold  previously  without  buying.  This  operation,  conducted 
on  a  general  scale,  appears  to  imply  a  contradiction.  But  the 
precious  metals  at  the  sources  of  their  production  are  directly 
exchanged  for  other  commodities.  And  here  we  have  sales 
(by  the  owners  of  commodities)  without  purchases  (by  the 
owners  of  gold  or  silver.)3     And  subsequent  sales,  by  other 

1 "  'Tis  by  this  practice  they  keep  all  their  goods  and  manufactures  at  such  layo 
rates."     (Vanderlint,   1.  c,  p.  96.) 

2  Money  ...  is   a   pledge."     (John    Bellers:      "Essays   about   the    Poor,    Manufac- 
turers, Trade,    Plantations,  and  Immorality,"   Lond.,   1699,   p.   13.) 

3  A  purchase,   in  a  "  categorical  "  sense,   implies  that  gold  and  silver  are  already 
the  converted  form  of  commodities,  or  the  product  of  a  sale. 

148  Capitalist  Production. 

producers,  unfollowed  by  purchases,  merely  bring  about  the 
distribution  of  the  newly  produced  precious  metals  among  all 
the  owners  of  commodities.  In  this  way,  all  along  the  line  of 
exchange,  hoards  of  gold  and  silver  of  varied  extent  are  ac- 
cumulated. With  the  possibility  of  holding  and  storing  up 
exchange  value  in  the  shape  of  a  particular  commodity,  arises 
also  the  greed  for  gold.  Along  with  the  extension  of  circula- 
tion, increases  the  power  of  money,  that  absolutely  social  form 
of  wealth  ever  ready  for  use.  "Gold  is  a  wonderful  thing! 
Whoever  possesses  it  is  lord  of  all  he  wants.  By  means  of 
gold  one  can  even  get  souls  into  Paradise."  (Columbus  in  his 
letter  from  Jamaica,  1503.)  Since  gold  does  not  disclose  what 
has  been  transformed  into  it,  everything,  commodity  or  not, 
is  convertible  into  gold.  Everything  becomes  saleable  and 
buyable.  The  circulation  becomes  the  great  social  retort  into 
which  everything  is  thrown,  to  come  out  again  as  a  gold- 
crystal.  Not  even  are  the  bones  of  saints,  and  still  less  are 
more  delicate  res  sacrosanctse  extra  commercium  hominum 
able  to  withstand  this  alchemy.1  Just  as  every  qualitative 
difference  between  commodities  is  extinguished  in  money,  so 
money,  on  its  side,  like  the  radical  leveller  that  it  is,  does 
away  with  all  distinctions.2     But  money  itself  is  a  commodity, 

1  Henry  III.,  most  Christian  king  of  France,  robbed  cloisters  of  their  relics,  and 
turned  them  into  money.  It  is  well  known  what  part  the  despoiling  of  the 
Delphic  Temple,  by  the  Phocians,  played  in  the  history  of  Greece.  Temples  with 
the  ancients  served  as  the  dwellings  of  the  gods  of  commodities.  They  were 
"  sacred  banks."  With  the  Phoenicians,  a  trading  people  par  excellence,  money  was 
the  transmuted  shape  of  everything.  It  was,  therefore,  quite  in  order  that  the 
virgins,  who,  at  the  feast  of  the  Goddess  of  Love,  gave  themselves  up  to  Strangers, 
should  offer  to  the  goddess  the  piece  of  money  they  received. 
2  "Gold,  yellow,  glittering,   precious  gold! 

Thus  much  of  this,  will  make  black  white;  foul,  fair; 

Wrong  right;    base,   noble;    old,   young;   coward,   valiant. 

.  .  .  What  this,   you   gods?     Why,   this 

Will    lug   your   priests    and   servants    from    your    sides; 

Pluck  stout  men's   pillows   from  below   their  heads; 

This  yellow  slave 
Will  knit  and  break  religions;  bless  the  accurs'd; 

Make    the   hoar   leprosy   ador'd;    place    thieves, 

And    give    them    title,    knee    and   approbation, 

With  senators   on   the  bench;   this  is  it, 

That  makes   the  wappen'd  widow  wed  again: 

.....   Come    damned    earth, 

Thou  common  whore  of   mankind." 

(Shakespeare:  Timon  of  Athens.) 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.        149 

an  external  object,  capable  of  becoming  the  private  property 
of  any  individual.  Thus  social  power  becomes  the  private 
power  of  private  persons.  The  ancients  therefore  denounced 
money  as  subversive  of  the  economical  and  moral  order  of 
things.1  Modem  society,  which  soon  after  its  birth,  pulled 
Plutus  by  the  hair  of  his  head  from  the  bowels  of  the  earth,2 
greets  gold  as  its  Holy  Grail,  as  the  glittering  incarnation  of 
the  very  principle  of  its  own  life. 

A  commodity,  in  its  capacity  of  a  use-value,  satisfies  a 
particular  want,  and  is  a  particular  element  of  material  wealth. 
But  the  value  of  a  commodity  measures  the  degree  of  its 
attraction  for  all  other  elements  of  material  wealth,  and  there- 
fore measures  the  social  wealth  of  its  owner.  To  a  barbarian 
owner  of  commodities,  and  even  to  a  West-European  peasant, 
value  is  the  same  as  value-form,  and  therefore,  to  him  the 
increase  in  his  hoard  of  gold  and  silver  is  an  increase  in  value. 
It  is  true  that  the  value  of  money  varies,  at  one  time  in  con- 
sequence of  a  variation  in  its  own  value,  at  another,  in 
consequence  of  a  change  in  the  value  of  commodities.  But 
this,  on  the  one  hand,  does  not  prevent  200  ounces  of  gold  from 
still  containing  more  value  than  100  ounces,  nor,  on  the  other 
hand,  does  it  hinder  the  actual  metallic  form  of  this  article 
from  continuing  to  be  the  universal  equivalent  form  of  all  other 
commodities,  and  the  immediate  social  incarnation  of  all 
human  labour.  The  desire  after  hoarding  is  in  its  very  nature 
unsatiable.  In  its  qualitative  aspect,  or  formally  considered, 
money  has  no  bounds  to  its  efficacy,  i.e.,  it  is  the  universal  re- 
presentative of  material  wealth,  because  it  is  directly  convert- 
ible into  any  other  commodity.  But,  at  the  same  time,  every 
actual  sum  of  money  is  limited  in  amount,  and  therefore,  as  a 

1  "  Ovokv  yap  avSpdjirolcnv  olov  dpyvpos 

Kaicbv  vofiiS/xa  e/3\ao-T€-  tovto  ko.1  v6\ei% 
Hopdel,  t65'  dvdpas  i%avi<jT-t]<siv  86p.u>v. 
T65'  iKOiddtricei  Kal  irapaX\&<r<r(t  (ppivas 
Xprjaras  irpbs  aicrxpa  avdpwwois  t\ei» 
Kal  iravTos  epyov  dvcrcr^fieiav  eldivai. 

(Sophocles,  Antigone.) 
3  '"EXir/f 01/0-775  rrjs  7rXeoi/e|tos  di-dlety  e«  twp  fivx&v  Trjsyrjs  avrbv  rbv  nXoiSrwra." 
(Athen.   Deipnos.) 

150  Capitalist  Production. 

means  of  purchasing,  has  only  a  limited  efficacy.  This  antag- 
onism between  the  quantitive  limits  of  money  and  its  qualita- 
tive boundlessness,  continually  acts  as  a  spur  to  the  hoarder  in 
his  Sisyphus-like  labour  of  accumulating.  It  is  with  him  as  it 
is  with  a  conqueror  who  sees  in  every  new  country  annexed, 
only  a  new  boundary. 

In  order  that  gold  may  be  held  as  money,  and  made  to  form 
a  hoard,  it  must  be  prevented  from  circulating,  or  from  trans- 
forming itself  into  a  means  of  enjoyment.  The  hoarder, 
therefore,  makes  a  sacrifice  of  the  lusts  of  the  flesh  to  his  gold 
fetish.  He  acts  in  earnest  up  to  the  Gospel  of  abstention.  On 
the  other  hand,  he  can  withdraw  from  circulation  no  more  than 
what  he  has  thrown  into  it  in  the  shape  of  commodities.  The 
more  he  produces,  the  more  he  is  able  to  sell.  Hard  work, 
saving,  and  avarice,  are,  therefore,  his  three  cardinal  virtues, 
and  to  sell  much  and  buy  little  the  sum  of  his  political 

By  the  side  of  the  gross  form  of  a  hoard,  we  find  also  its 
aesthetic  form  in  the  possession  of  gold  and  silver  articles. 
This  grows  with  the  wealth  of  civil  society.  "  Soyons  riches  ou 
paraissons  riches"  (Diderot).  In  this  way  there  is  created, 
on  the  one  hand,  a  constantly  extending  market  for  gold  and 
silver,  unconnected  with  their  functions  as  money,  and,  on  the 
other  hand,  a  latent  source  of  supply,  to  which  recourse  is  had 
principally  in  times  of  crisis  and  social  disturbance. 

Hoarding  serves  various  purposes  in  the  economy  of  the 
metallic  circulation.  Its  first  function  arises  out  of  the  con- 
ditions to  which  the  currency  of  gold  and  silver  coins  is  sub- 
ject. We  have  seen  how,  along  with  the  continual  fluctuations 
in  the  extent  and  rapidity  of  the  circulation  of  commodities 
and  in  their  prices,  the  quantity  of  money  current  unceasingly 
ebbs  and  flows.  This  mass  must,  therefore,  be  capable  of  ex- 
pansion and  contraction.  At  one  time  money  must  be  attracted 
in  order  to  act  as  circulating  coin,  at  another,  circulating  coin 
must  be  repelled  in  order  to  act  again  as  more  or  less  stagnant 

1  "Accrescere  quanto  piu  si  puo  il  numero  de'  venditori  d'ogni  merce,  diminuere 
quanto  piu  si  puo  il  numero  dei  compratori,  questi  sono  i  cardini  sui  quali  si 
raggirano  tutte  le  operazioni  di  economia  politica."     (Verri,  1.  c.  p.  62.) 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.      151 

money.  In  order  that  the  mass  of  money,  actually  current, 
may  constantly  saturate  the  absorbing  power  of  the  circulation, 
it  is  necessary  that  the  quantity  of  gold  and  silver  in  a  country 
be  greater  than  the  quantity  required  to  function  as  coin. 
This  condition  is  fulfilled  by  money  taking  the  form  of  hoards. 
These  reserves  serve  as  conduits  for  the  supply  or  withdrawal 
of  money  to  or  from  the  circulation,  which  in  this  way  never 
overflows  its  banks.1 

b.  Means,  of  Payment. 

In  the  simple  form  of  the  circulation  of  commodities  hither- 
to considered,  we  found  a  given  value  always  presented  to  us  in 
a  double  shape,  as  a  commodity  at  one  pole,  as  money  at  the 
opposite  pole.  The  owners  of  commodities  came  therefore  into 
contact  as  the  respective  representatives  of  what  were  already 
equivalents.  But  with  the  development  of  circulation,  condi- 
tions arise  under  which  the  alienation  of  commodities  becomes 
separated,  by  an  interval  of  time,  from  the  realisation  of  their 
prices.  It  will  be  sufficient  to  indicate  the  most  simple  of 
these  conditions.  One  sort  of  article  requires  a  longer,  an- 
other a  shorter  time  for  its  production.  Again,  the  production 
of  different  commodities  depends  on  different  seasons  of  the 
year.  One  sort  of  commodity  may  be  born  on  its  own  market 
place,  another  has  to  make  a  long  journey  to  market.  Commod- 
ity-owner ISTo.  1,  may  therefore  be  ready  to  sell,  before  No.  2  is 
ready  to  buy.  When  the  same  transactions  are  continually 
repeated  between  the  same  persons,  the  conditions  of  sale  are 

1  "There  is  required  for  carrying  on  the  trade  of  the  nation  a  determinate  sum  of 
specifick  money,  which  varies,  and  is  sometimes  more,  sometimes  less,  as  the  cir- 
cumstances we  are  in  require.  .  .  .  This  ebbing  and  flowing  of  money  supplies 
and  accommodates  itself,  without  any  aid  of  Politicians.  .  .  .  The  buckets 
work  alternately;  when  money  is  scarce,  bullion  is  coined;  when  bullion  is  scarce, 
money  is  melted."  (Sir  D.  North,  1.  c,  Postscript,  p.  3.)  John  Stuart  Mill,  who 
for  a  long  time  was  an  official  of  the  East  India  Company,  confirms  the  fact  that 
in  India  silver  ornaments  still  continue  to  perform  directly  the  functions  of  a 
hoard.  The  silver  ornaments  are  brought  out  and  coined  when  there  is  a  high 
rate  of  interest,  and  go  back  again  when  the  rate  of  interest  falls.  (J.  S.  Mill's 
Evidence.  "  Reports  on  Bank  Acts,"  1857,  2084.)  According  to  a  Parliamentary 
document  of  1864,  on  the  gold  and  silver  import  and  export  of  India,  the  im- 
port of  gold  and  silver  in  1863  exceeded  the  export  by  £19,367,764.  During  the 
8  years  immediately  preceding  1864,  the  excess  of  imports  over  exports  of  the 
precious  metals  amounted  to  £109,652,917.  During  this  century  far  more  than 
£200,000,000   has  been   coined   in    India. 

152  Capitalist  Production. 

regulated  in  accordance  with  the  conditions  of  production. 
On  the  other  hand,  the  use  of  a  given  commodity,  of  a  house, 
for  instance,  is  sold  (in  common  parlance,  let)  for  a  definite 
period.  Here,  it  is  only  at  the  end  of  the  term  that  the  buyer 
has  actually  received  the  use-value  of  the  commodity.  He 
therefore  buys  it  before  he  pays  for  it.  The  vendor  sells  an 
existing  commodity,  the  purchaser  buys  as  the  mere  represen- 
tative of  money,  or  rather  of  future  money.  The  vendor  be- 
comes a  creditor,  the  purchaser  becomes  a  debtor.  Since  the 
metamorphosis  of  commodities,  or  the  development  of  their 
value-form,  appears  here  under  a  new  aspect,  money  also  ac- 
quires a  fresh  function ;  it  becomes  the  means  of  payment. 

The  character  of  creditor^  or  of  debtor,  results  here  from  the 
simple  circulation.  The  change  in  the  form  of  that  circula- 
tion stamps  buyer  and  seller  with  this  new  die.  At  first,  there- 
fore, these  new  parts  are  just  as  transient  and  alternating  as 
those  of  seller  and  buyer,  and  are  in  turns  played  by  the  same 
actors.  But  the  opposition  is  not  nearly  so  pleasant,  and  is  far 
more  capable  of  crystallization.1  The  same  characters  can, 
however,  be  assumed  independently  of  the  circulation  of  com- 
modities. The  class-struggles  of  the  ancient  world  took  the 
form  chiefly  of  a  contest  between  debtors  and  creditors,  which 
in  Rome  ended  in  the  ruin  of  the  plebeian  debtors.  They 
were  displaced  by  slaves.  In  the  middle-ages  the  contest 
ended  with  the  ruin  of  the  feudal  debtors,  who  lost  their  po- 
litical power  together  with  the  economical  basis  on  which  it 
was  established.  ISTevertheless,  the  money  relation  of  debtor 
and  creditor  that  existed  at  these  two  periods  reflected  only  the 
deeper-lying  antagonism  between  the  general  economical  con- 
ditions of  existence  of  the  classes  in  question. 

Let  us  return  to  the  circulation  of  commodities.  The  ap- 
pearance of  the  two  equivalents,  commodities  and  money,  at 
the  two  poles  of  the  process  of  sale,  has  ceased  to  be  simulta- 
neous.    The  money  functions  now,  first  as  a  measure  of  value 

1  The  following  shows  the  debtor  and  creditor  relations  existing  between  English 
traders  at  the  beginning  of  the  18th  century.  "  Such  a  spirit  of  cruelty  reigns 
here  in  England  among  the  men  of  trade,  that  is  not  to  be  met  with  in  any  other 
society  of  men,  nor  in  any  other  kingdom  of  the  world."  ("  An  Essay  on  Credit 
and  the  Bankrupt  Act,"  Lond.,  1707,  p.  2.) 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.     153 

in  the  determination  of  the  price  of  the  commodity  sold;  the 
price  fixed  by  the  contract  measures  the  obligation  of  the 
debtor,  or  the  sum  of  money  that  he  has  to  pay  at  a  fixed 
date.  Secondly,  it  serves  as  an  ideal  means  of  purchase.  Al- 
though existing  only  in  the  promise  of  the  buyer  to  pay,  it 
causes  the  commodity  to  change  hands.  It  is  not  before  the 
day  fixed  for  payment  that  the  means  of  payment  actually 
steps  into  circulation,  leaves  the  hand  of  the  buyer  for  that  of 
the  seller.  The  circulating  medium  was  transformed  into  a 
hoard,  because  the  process  stopped  short  after  the  first  phase, 
because  the  converted  shape  of  the  commodity,  viz.,  the  money, 
was  withdrawn  from  circulation.  The  means  of  payment 
enters  the  circulation,  but  only  after  the  commodity  has  left 
it.  The  money  is  no  longer  the  means  that  brings  about  the 
process.  It  only  brings  it  to  a  close,  by  stepping  in  as  the 
absolute  form  of  existence  of  exchange  value,  or  as  the  uni- 
versal commodity.  The  seller  turned  his  commodity  into 
money,  in  order  thereby  to  satisfy  some  want ;  the  hoarder  did 
the  same  in  order  to  keep  his  commodity  in  its  money-shape, 
and  the  debtor  in  order  to  be  able  to  pay;  if  he  do  not  pay, 
his  goods  will  be  sold  by  the  sheriff.  The  value-form  of  com- 
modities, money,  is  therefore  now  the  end  and  aim  of  a  sale, 
and  that  owing  to  a  social  necessity  springing  out  of  the 
process  of  circulation  itself. 

The  buyer  converts  money  back  into  commodities  before  he 
has  turned  commodities  into  money :  in  other  words,  he 
achieves  the  second  metamorphosis  of  commodities  before  the 
first.  The  seller's  commodity  circulates,  and  realises  its  price, 
but  only  in  the  shape  of  a  legal  claim  upon  money.  It  is  con- 
verted into  a  use-value  before  it  has  been  converted  into 
money.  The  completion  of  its  first  metamorphosis  follows 
only  at  a  later  period.1 

1  It  will  be  seen  from  the  following  quotation  from  my  book  which  appeared  in 
1859,  why  I  take  no  notice  in  the  text  of  an  opposite  form:  "Contrariwise,  in  the 
process  M  —  C,  the  money  can  be  alienated  as  a  real  means  of  purchase,  and  in 
that  way,  the  price  of  the  commodity  can  be  realised  before  the  use-value  of  the 
money  is  realised  and  the  commodity  actually  delivered.  This  occurs  constantly 
under  the  every-day  form  of  pre-payments.  And  it  is  under  this  form,  that  the 
English  government  purchases  opium  from  the  ryots  of  India.  ...  In  these  cases, 
however,  the  money  always  acts  as  a  means  of  purchase.     .     .     .     Of  course  capital 

154  Capitalist  Production. 

The  obligations  falling  due  within  a  given  period,  repre> 
sent  the  sum  of  the  prices  of  the  commodities,  the  sale  oi  which 
gave  rise  to  those  obligations.  The  quantity  of  gold  necessary 
to  realise  this  sum,  depends,  in  the  first  instance,  on  the  rapid- 
ity of  currency  of  the  means  of  payment.  That  quantity  is 
conditioned  by  two  circumstances :  first  the  relations  between 
debtors  and  creditors  form  a  sort  of  chain,  in  such  a  way  that 
A,  when  he  receives  money  from  his  debtor  B,  straightway 
hands  it  over  to  C  his  creditor,  and  so  on ;  the  second  cir- 
cumstance is  the  length  of  the  intervals  between  the  different 
due-days  of  the  obligations.  The  continuous  chain  of  pay- 
ments, or  retarded  first  metamorphoses,  is  essentially  different 
from  that  interlacing  of  the  series  of  metamorphoses  which 
we  considered  on  a  former  page.  By  the  currency  of  the 
circulating  medium,  the  connexion  between  buyers  and  sellers, 
is  not  merely  expressed.  This  connexion  is  originated  by, 
and  exists  in,  the  circulation  alone.  Contrariwise,  the  move- 
ment of  the  means  of  payment  expresses  a  social  relation  that 
was  in  existence  long  before. 

The  fact  that  a  number  of  sales  take  place  simultaneously, 
and  side  by  side,  limits  the  extent  to  which  coin  can  be  re- 
placed by  the  rapidity  of  currency.  On  the  other  hand,  this 
fact  is  a  new  lever  in  economising  the  means  of  payment.  In 
proportion  as  payments  are  concentrated  at  one  spot,  special 
institutions  and  methods  are  developed  for  their  liquidation. 
Such  in  the  middle  ages  were  the  virements  at  Lyons.  The 
debts  clue  to  A  from  B>  to  B  from  C,  to  C  from  A,  and  so  on, 
have  only  to  be  confronted  with  each  other,  in  order  to  annul 
each  other  to  a  certain  extent  like  positive  and  negative  quan- 
tities. There  thus  remains  only  a  single  balance  to  pay.  The 
greater  the  amount  of  the  payments  concentrated,  the  less  is 
this  balance  relatively  to  that  amount^  and  the  less  is  the  mass 
of  the  means  of  payment  in  circulation. 

The  function  of  money  as  the  means  of  payment  implies  a 
contradiction  without  a  terminus  medius.     In  so  far  as  the 

also  is  advanced  in  the  shape  of  money.  .  .  .  This  point  of  view,  however, 
does  not  fall  within  the  horizon  of  simple  circulation.  ("Critique,"  &c,  pp. 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.        155 

payments  balance  one  another,  money  functions  only  ideally 
as  money  of  account,  as  a  measure  of  value.  In  so  far  as  ac- 
tual payments  have  to  be  made,  money  does  not  serve  as  a 
circulating  medium,  as  a  mere  transient  agent  in  the  inter- 
change of  products,  but  as  the  individual  incarnation  of  social 
labour,  as  the  independent  form  of  existence  of  exchange  value, 
as  the  universal  commodity.  This  contradiction  comes  to  a 
head  in  those  phases  of  industrial  and  commercial  crises  which 
are  known  as  monetary  crises.1  Such  a  crisis  occurs  only 
where  the  ever-lengthening  chain  of  payments,  and  an  artificial 
system  of  settling  them,  has  been  fully  developed.  Whenever 
there  is  a  general  and  extensive  disturbance  of  this  mechanism, 
no  matter  what  its  cause,  money  becomes  suddenly  and  imme- 
diately transformed,  from  its  merely  ideal  shape  of  money  of 
account,  into  hard  cash.  Profane  commodities  can  no  longer 
replace  it.  The  use-value  of  commodities  becomes  value- 
less, and  their  value  vanishes  in  the  presence  of  its  own 
independent  form.  On  the  eve  of  the  crisis,  the  bourgeois, 
with  the  self-sufficiency  that  springs  from  intoxicat- 
ing prosperity,  declares  money  to  be  a  vain  imagination. 
Commodities  alone  are  money.  But  now  the  cry  is  every- 
where :  money  alone  is  a  commodity !  As  the  hart  pants  after 
fresh  water,  so  pants  his  soul  after  money,  the  only  wealth.2 
In  a  crisis,  the  antithesis  between  commodities  and  their  value- 
form,  money,  becomes  heightened  into  an  absolute  contradic- 
tion. Hence,  in  such  events,  the  form  under  which  money 
appears  is  of  no  importance.     The  money  famine  continues, 

1  The  monetary  crisis  referred  to  in  the  text,  being  a  phase  of  every  crisis,  must 
be  clearly  distinguished  from  that  particular  form  of  crisis,  which  also  is  called  a 
monetary  crisis,  but  which  may  be  produced  by  itself  as  an  independent  phenomenon 
in  such  a  way  as  to  react  only  indirectly  on  industry  and  commerce.  The  pivot  of 
these  crises  is  to  be  found  in  moneyed  capital,  and  their  sphere  of  direct  action  is 
therefore  the  sphere   of   that  capital,   viz.,   banking,   the  stock  exchange,   and  finance. 

2  "The  sudden  reversion  from  a  system  of  credit  to  a  system  of  hard  cash  heaps 
theoretical  fright  on  top  of  the  practical  panic;  and  the  dealers  by  whose  agency 
circulation  is  affected,  shudder  before  the  impenetrable  mystery  in  which  their  own 
economical  relations  are  involved"  (Karl  Marx,  1.  c.  p.  198).  "The  poor  stand  still, 
because  the  rich  have  no  money  to  employ  them,  though  they  have  the  same  land 
and  hands  to  provide  victuals  and  clothes,  as  ever  they  had;  .  .  .  which  is  the 
true  Riches  of  a  Nation,  and  not  the  money."  (John  Bellers:  "Proposals  for  raising 
a  College  of  Industry."     Lond.  1695.  p.  3.) 

156  Capitalist  Production. 

whether  payments  have  to  be  made  in  gold  or  in  credit  money- 
such  as  bank  notes.1 

If  we  now  consider  the  sum  total  of  the  money  current  dur- 
ing a  given  period,  we  shall  find  that,  given  the  rapidity  of 
currency  of  the  circulating  medium  and  of  the  means  of  pay- 
ment, it  is  equal  to  the  sum  of  the  prices  to  be  realised,  plus 
the  sum  of  the  payments  falling  due,  minus  the  payments  that 
balance  each  other,  minus  finally  the  number  of  circuits  in 
which  the  same  piece  of  coin  serves  in  turn  as  means  of 
circulation  anj  of  payment.  Hence,  even  when  prices,  rapid- 
ity of  currency,  and  the  extent  of  the  economy  in  payments, 
are  given,  the  quantity  of  money  current  and  the  mass  of  com- 
modities circulating  during  a  given  period,  such  as  a  day,  no 
longer  correspond.  Money  that  represents  commodities  long 
withdrawn  from  circulation,  continues  to  be  current.  Com- 
modities circulate,  whose  equivalent  in  money  will  not  appear 
on  the  scene  till  some  future  day.  Moreover,  the  debts  con- 
tracted each  day,  and  the  payments  falling  due  on  the  same 
day,  are  quite  incommensurable  quantities.2 

Credit-money  springs  directly  out  of  the  function  of  money 
as  a  means  of  payment.  Certificates  of  the  debts  owing  for 
the  purchased  commodities  circulate  for  the  purpose  of  trans- 

1  The  following  shows  how  such  times  are  exploited  by  the  "amis  du  commerce." 
"On  one  occasion  (1S39)  an  old  grasping  banker  (in  the  city)  in  his  private  room 
raised  the  lid  of  the  desk  he  sat  over,  and  displayed  to  a  friend  rolls  of  banknotes, 
saying  with  intense  glee  there  were  £600,000  of  them,  they  were  held  to  make 
money  tight,  and  would  all  be  let  out  after  three  o'clock  on  the  same  day."  ("The 
Theory  of  Exchanges.  The  Bank  Charter  Act  of  1844."  Lond.  1S64.  p.  81.)  The 
Observer,  a  semi-official  government  organ,  contained  the  following  paragraph  on 
24th  April,  1864:  "Some  very  curious  rumours  are  current  of  the  means  which 
have  been  resorted  to  in  order  to  create  a  scarcity  of  Banknotes Ques- 
tionable as  it  would  seem,  to  suppose  that  any  trick  of  the  kind  would  be  adopted, 
the  report  has  been  so  universal  that  it  really  deserves  mention." 

2  "The  amount  of  purchases  or  contracts  entered  upon  during  the  course  of  any 
given  day,  will  not  affect  the  quantity  of  money  afloat  on  that  particular  day,  but, 
in  the  vast  majority  of  cases,  will  resolve  themselves  into  multifarious  drafts  upon 
the  quantity  of  money  which  may  be  afloat  at  subsequent  dates  more  or  less  distant. 
.  .  .  .  The  bills  granted  or  credits  opened,  to-day,  need  have  no  resemblance 
whatever,  either  in  quantity,  amount,  or  duration,  to  those  granted  or  entered  upon, 
to-morrow  or  next  day;  nay,  many  of  to-day's  bills,  and  credits,  when  due,  fall  in 
with  a  mass  of  liabilities  whose  origins  traverse  a  range  of  antecedent  dates  alto- 
gether indefinite,  bills  at  12,  6,  3  months  or  1  often  aggregating  together  to  swell 
the  common  liabilities  of  one  particular  day.  ..."  ("The  Currency  Theory 
Reviewed:  a  letter  to  the  Scottish  people."  By  a  Banker  in  England.  Edinburgh, 
1845,   pp.   29,  30   passim.) 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.        157 

ferring  those  debts  to  others.  On  the  other  hand,  to  the  same 
extent  as  the  system  of  credit  is  extended,  so  is  the  function 
of  money  as  a  means  of  payment.  In  that  character  it  takes 
various  forms  peculiar  to  itself  under  which  it  makes  itself  at 
home  in  the  sphere  of  great  commercial  transactions.  Gold 
and  silver  coin,  on  the  other  hand2  are  mostly  relegated  to  the 
sphere  of  retail  trade.1 

When  the  production  of  commodities  has  sufficiently  ex- 
tended itself,  money  begins  to  serve  as  the  means  of  payment 
beyond  the  sphere  of  the  circulation  of  commodities.  It  be- 
comes the  commodity  that  is  the  universal  subject-matter  of 
all  contracts.2  Rents,  taxes,  and  such  like  payments  are 
transformed  from  payments  in  kind  into  money  payments. 
To  what  extent  this  transformation  depends  upon  the  general 
conditions  of  production,  is  shown,  to  take  one  example,  by 
the  fact  that  the  Roman  Empire  twice  failed  in  its  attempt  to 
levy  all  contributions  in  money.  The  unspeakable  misery  of 
the  French  agricultural  population  under  Louis  XIV.,  a  mis- 
ery so  eloquently  denounced  by  Boisguillebert,  Marshal,  Vau- 
ban,  and  others,  was  due  not  only  to  the  weight  of  the  taxes, 
but  also  to  the  conversion  of  taxes  in  kind  into  money  taxes.3 

1  As  an  example  of  how  little  ready  money  is  required  in  true  commercial  opera- 
tions, I  give  below  a  statement  by  one  of  the  largest  London  houses  of  its  yearly 
receipts  and  payments.  Its  transactions  during  the  year  1856,  extending  to  many 
milions  of  pounds  sterling,  are  here  reduced  to  the  scale  of  one  million. 



Bankers'       and       Merchants' 

Bills  payable  after  date, 


Bills  payable  after  date, 



Cheques  on  London  Bankers, 


Cheques     on     Bankers, 


Bank  of  England  Notes, 


payable     on     demand, 





Country  Notes, 



Silver  and  Copper, 


Bank  of  England  Notes, 



Gold       - 


Silver   and    Copper, 



Post   Office   Orders, 






"Report  from  the  Select  Committee  on  the  Bank  Acts,  July,  1858,"  p.  lxxi. 

2  "The  course  of  trade  being  thus  turned,  from  exchanging  of  goods  for  goods,  or 
delivering  and  taking,  to  selling  and  paying,  all  the  bargains  .  .  .  are  now 
stated  upon  the  foot  of  a  price  in.  money."  "An  Essay  upon  Publick  Credit." 
3rd  Ed.     Lond.,  1710,  p.  8.) 

3  "L'argent.  .  .  est  devenu  le  bourreau  de  toutes  choses."  Finance  is  the 
"alambic,   qui  a  fait  evaporer  une  quantite  effroyable  de  biens  et  de  denrees  pour 

158  Capitalist  Production. 

In  Asia,  on  the  other  hand,  the  fact  that  state  taxes  are  chiefly 
composed  of  rents  payable  in  kind,  depends  on  conditions  of 
production  that  are  reproduced  with  the  regularity  of  natural 
phenomena.  And  this  mode  of  payment  tends  in  its  turn  to 
maintain  the  ancient  form  of  production.  It  is  one  of  the 
secrets  of  the  conservation  of  the  Ottoman  Empire.  If  the 
foreign  trade,  forced  upon  Japan  by  Europeans,  should  lead 
to  the  substitution  of  money  rents  for  rents  in  kind,  it  will  be 
all  up  with  the  exemplary  agriculture  of  that  country.  The 
narrow  economical  conditions  under  which  that  agriculture  is 
carried  on,  will  be  swept  away. 

In  every  country,  certain  days  of  the  year  become  by  habit 
recognised  settling  days  for  various  large  and  recurrent  pay- 
ments. These  dates  depend,  apart  from  other  revolutions  in 
the  wheel  of  reproduction,  on  conditions  closely  connected  with 
the  seasons.  They  also  regulate  the  dates  for  payments  that 
have  no  direct  connexion  with  the  circulation  of  commodities 
such  as  taxes,  rents,  and  so  on.  The  quantity  of  money  re- 
quisite to  make  the  payments,  falling  due  on  those  dates  all 
over  the  country,  causes  periodical,  though  merely  superficial, 
perturbations  in  the  economy  of  the  medium  of  payment.1 

From  the  law  of  the  rapidity  of  currency  of  the  means  of 
payment,  it  follows  that  the  quantity  of  the  means  of  pay- 
ment required  for  all  periodical  payments,  whatever  their 
source,  is  in  inverse  proportion  to  the  length  of  their  periods.2 

faire  ce  fatal  precis."  "L'argent  declare  la  guerre  a  tout  le  genre  humain."  (B0I9 
guillebert:  "Dissertation  sur  la  nature  des  richesses,  de  l'argent  et  des  tributs." 
Edit.   Daire.     Economistes  financiers.      Paris,   1843,   t.   i.,   pp.   413,   419,   417.) 

1  "On  Whitsuntide,  1824,"  says  Mr.  Craig  before  the  Commons'  Committee  of 
1826,  "there  was  such  an  immense  demand  for  notes  upon  the  banks  of  Edinburgh, 
that  by  11  o'clock  they  had  not  a  note  left  in  their  custody.  They  sent  round  to  all 
the  different  banks  to  borrow,  but  could  not  get  them,  and  many  of  the  transac- 
tions were  adjusted  by  slips  of  paper  only;  yet  by  three  o'clock  the  whole  of  the 
notes  were  returned  into  the  banks  from  which  they  had  issued!  It  was  a  mere 
transfer  from  hand  to  hand."  Although  the  average  effective  circulation  of  bank- 
notes in  Scotland  is  less  than  three  millions  sterling,  yet  on  certain  pay  days  in  the 
year,  every  single  note  in  the  possession  of  the  bankers,  amounting  in  the  whole  to 
about  £7,000,000,  is  called  into  activity.  On  these  occasions  the  notes  have  a 
single  and  specific  function  to  perform,  and  so  soon  as  they  have  performed  it,  they 
flow  back  into  the  various  banks  from  which  they  issued.  (See  John  Fullarton, 
"Regulation  of  Currencies."  Lond:  1844,  p.  85  note.)  In  explanation  it  should  be 
stated,  that  in  Scotland,  at  the  date  of  Fullarton's  work,  notes  and  not  cheques  were 
used  to  withdraw  deposits. 

2  To  the  question.     "If  there  were  occasion  to  raise  4P  millions  p. a.,  whether  the 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.        159 

The  development  of  money  into  a  medium  of  payment 
makes  it  necessary  to  accumulate  money  against  the  dates 
fixed  for  the  payment  of  the  sums  owing.  While  hoarding, 
as  a  distinct  mode  of  acquiring  riches,  vanishes  with  the  prog- 
ress of  civil  society,  the  formation  of  reserves  of  the  means  of 
payment  grows  with  that  progress. 

c.  Universal  Money. 

When  money  leaves  the  home  sphere  of  circulation,  it  strips 
off  the  local  garbs  which  it  there  assumes,  of  a  standard  of 
prices,  of  coin,  of  tokens,  and  of  a  symbol  of  value,  and  re- 
turns to  its  original  form  of  bullion.  In  the  trade  between  the 
markets  of  the  world,  the  value  of  commodities  is  expressed  so 
as  to  be  universally  recognised.  Hence  their  independent 
value-form  also,  in  these  cases,  confronts  them  under  the  shape 
of  universal  money.  It  is  only  in  the  markets  of  the  world 
that  money  acquires  to  the  full  extent  the  character  of  the 
commodity  whose  bodily  form  is  also  the  immediate  social  in- 
carnation of  human  labour  in  the  abstract.  Its  real  mode  of 
existence  in  this  sphere  adequately  corresponds  to  its  ideal 

Within  the  sphere  of  home  circulation,  there  can  be  but  one 
commodity  which,  by  serving  as  a  measure  of  value,  becomes 
money.  In  the  markets  of  the  world  a  double  measure  of 
value  holds  sway,  gold  and  silver.1 

same  6  millions  (gold)  .  .  .  would  suffice  for  such  revolutions  and  circulations 
thereof,  as  trade  requires,"  Petty  replies  in  his  usual  masterly  manner,  "I  answer 
yes:  for  the  expense  being  40  millions,  if  the  revolutions  were  in  such  short  circles, 
viz.,  weekly,  as  happens  among  poor  artizans  and  labourers,  who  receive  and  pay 
every  Saturday,  then  4°  parts  of  1  million  of  money  would  answer  these  ends;  but 
if  the  circles  be  quarterly,  according  to  our  custom  of  paying  rent,  and  gathering 
taxes,  then  10  millions  were  requisite.  Wherefore,  supposing  payments  in  general 
to  be  of  a  mixed  circle  between  one  week  and  13,  then  add  10  millions  to  4?> 
the  half  of  which  will  be  5J4,  so  as  if  we  have  byZ  millions  we  have  enough." 
(William  Petty:  "Political  Anatomy  of  Ireland."  1672.  Edit.:  Lond.  1691,  pp. 
13,   14.) 

1  Hence  the  absurdity  of  every  law  prescribing  that  the  banks  of  a  country  shall 
form  reserves  of  that  precious  metal  alone  which  circulates  at  home.  The  "pleasant 
difficulties"  thus  self-created  by  the  Bank  of  England,  are  well  known.  On  the 
subject  of  the  great  epochs  in  the  history  of  the  changes  in  the  relative  value  of  gold 
and  silver,  see  Karl  Marx,  1.  c.  p.  215  sq.  Sir  Robert  Peel,  by  his  Bank  Act  of 
1844,  sought  to  tide  over  the  difficulty,  by  allowing  the  Bank  of  England  to  issue 
notes  against  silver  bullion,  on  condition  that  the  reserve  of  silver  should  never  ex- 
ceed more  than   one-fourth  of  the   reserve  of  gold.     The  value  of  silver  being   for 

i6o  Capitalist  Production. 

Money  of  the  world  serves  as  the  universal  medium  of  pay- 
ment, as  the  universal  means  of  purchasing,  and  as  the  uni- 
versally recognised  embodiment  of  all  wealth.  Its  function 
as  a  means  of  payment  in  the  settling  of  international  balances 
is  its  chief  one.  Hence  the  watchword  of  the  mercantilists, 
balance   of  trade.1     Gold   and   silver   serve    as   international 

that  purpose  estimated  at  its  price  in  the  London  market. — Note  to  the  4th  German 
edition. — We  find  ourselves  once  more  in  a  period  of  a  marked  change  in  the  relative 
values  of  gold  and  silver.  About  25  years  ago  the  ratio  of  gold  to  silver  was  15.5  to 
if  now  it  is  about  22  to  1,  and  silver  is  continually  falling  against  gold.  This  is 
essentially  a  result  of  a  revolution  in  the  processt  ;  of  p:  duction  of  these  two  metals. 
Formerly  gold  was  obtained  almost  exclusively  by  washing  alluvial  strata  containing 
gold,  the  products  of  disintegration  of  gold-carrying  rocks.  But  now  this  method 
is  no  longer  sufficient  and  has  been  crowded  to  the  rear  by  the  mining  of  quartz 
layers   containing   gold,    a  iod    formerly    consi         d    as   secondary,    although    well 

known  even  to  the  ancients  (Diodorus,  III,  12-14).  On  the  other  hand,  immense 
new  silver  deposits  were  discovered  in  th2  American  Rocky  Mountains,  and  these 
as  well  as  the  Mexican  silver  mines  opened  u.^  1/  means  of  railroads,  which  per- 
mitted the  influx  of  modern  machinery  and  fuel  and  thereby  reduced  the  cost  and 
increased  the  output  of  silver  mining.  But  there  is  a  great  difference  in  the  way 
in  which  both  metals  occur  in  the  c-e  beds.  The  gold  is  generally  solid,  but  scat- 
tered in  minute  particles  through  1  -o  quartz  layers.  The  whole  diggings  must 
therefore  be  crushed  and  the  gold  washed  out  or  extracted  by  means  of  quicksilver. 
Frequently  one  millicn  grams  of  quartz  do  not  contain  more  than  1  to  3  grams  of 
gold,  and  rarely  more  than  30  to  60  grams.  Silver,  on  the  other  hand,  is  rarely 
found  in  the  pure  state,  but  it  occurs  in  some  ores  which  are  easily  separated  from 
the  dross  and  contain  as  much  as  40  to  90%  of  silver.  Or  smaller  quantities  of  it 
are  found  in  ores  like  copper,  lead,  etc.,  which  are  themselves  worth  mining.  This 
alone  is  sufficient  to  show  that  the  work  of  producing  gold  has  rather  increased, 
while  that  of  producing  silver  has  certainly  decreased,  and  this  quite  naturally  ex- 
plains the  fall  in  the  value  of  silver.  This  fall  in  value  would  express  itself  in  a 
still  greater  fall  of  price,  if  the  price  of  silver  were  not  held  up  even  now  by  arti- 
ficial means.  The  silver  deposits  of  America,  however,  have  been  made  accessible 
only  to  a  small  extent,  and  there  is,  consequently,  every  prospect  of  a  continued  fall 
in  the  value  of  silver.  This  must  be  further  promoted  by  the  relative  decrease  of 
the  demand  for  silver  for  articles  of  use  and  luxury,  its  displacement  by  plated 
wares,  aluminum,  etc.  Judge,  then,  of  the  utopianism  of  the  bimetallist  illusion  that 
a  forced  international  quotation  could  raise  silver  to  its  old  value  of  15.5  to  1.  The 
chances  are  rather  that  silver  will  lose  more  and  more  of  its  character  as  money  on 
the    world    market.      F.    E. 

1  The  opponents,  themselves,  of  the  mercantile  system,  a  system  which  consid- 
ered the  settlement  of  surplus  trade  balances  in  gold  and  silver  as  the  aim  of  inter- 
national trade,  entirely  misconceived  the  functions  of  money  of  the  world.  I  have 
shown  by  the  example  of  Ricardo  in  what  way  their  false  conception  of  the  laws 
that  regulate  the  quantity  of  the  circulating  medium,  is  reflected  in  their  equally 
false  conception  of  the  international  movement  in  the  precious  metals  (1.  c.  pp.  150 
sq.).  His  erroneous  dogma:  "An  unfavourable  balance  of  trade  never  arises  but 
from  a  redundant  currency.  .  .  .  The  exportation  of  the  coin  is  caused  by  its 
cheapness,  and  is  not  the  effect,  but  the  cause  of  an  unfavourable  balance,"  already 
occurs  in  Barbon:  "The  Balance  of  Trade,  if  there  be  one,  is  not  the  cause  of 
sending  away  the  money  out  of  a  nation;  but  that  proceeds  from  the  difference  of 
the  value  of  bullion  in  every  country."  (N.  Barbon;  1.  c.  pp.  59,  60.)  MacCul- 
loch   in   "the   Literature  of   Political    Economy,   a   classified   catalogue,   Lond.    1845," 

Money,  or  the  Circulation  of  Commodities.        161 

means  of  purchasing  chiefly  and  necessarily  in  those  periods 
when  the  customary  equilibrium  in  the  interchange  of  products 
between  different  nations  is  suddenly  disturbed.  And  lastly, 
it  serves  as  the  universally  recognised  embodiment  of  social 
wealth,  whenever  the  question  is  not  cf  buyinr  or  paying,  but 
of  transferring  wealth  from  one  country  to  another,  and  when- 
ever this  transference  in  the  form  of  commodities  is  rendered 
impossible,  either  by  special  conjunctures  in  the  markets,  or 
by  the  purpose  itself  that  is  intended.1 

Just  as  every  country  needs  a  reserve  of  money  for  its  home 
circulation,  so,  too,  it  requires  one  for  external  circulation  in 
the  markets  of  the  world.  The  functions  of  hoards,  therefore, 
arise  in  part  out  of  the  function  of  money,  as  the  medium  of 
the  home  circulation  and  home  payments,  and  in  part  out 
of  its  function  of  money  of  the  world.2  For  this  latter  func- 
tion, the  genuine  money-commodity,  actual  gold  and  silver,  is 
necessary.  On  that  account,  Sir  James  Steuart,  in  order  to 
distinguish  them  from  their  purely  local  substitutes,  calls  gold 
and  silver  "money  of  the  world." 

The  current  of  the  stream  of  gold  and  silver  is  a  double  one. 
On  the  one  hand,  it  spreads  itself  from  its  sources  over  all  the 
markets  of  the  world,  in  order  to  become  absorbed,  to  various 
extents,  into  the  different  national  spheres  of  circulation,  to 
fill  the  conduits  of  currency,  to  replace  abraded  gold  and  silver 

praises  Barbon  for  this  anticipation,  but  prudently  passes  over  the  naive  forms,  in 
which  Barbon  clothes  the  absurd  suppositoin  on  which  the  "currency  principle"  is 
based.  The  absence  of  real  criticism  and  even  of  honesty,  in  that  catalogue,  cul- 
minates in  the  sections  devoted  to  the  history  of  the  theory  of  money;  the  reason 
is  that  MacCulloch  in  this  part  of  the  work  is  flattering  Lord  Overstone  whom  he 
calls    "fecile    princeps   argentariorum." 

1  For  instance,  in  subsidies,  money  loans  for  carrying  on  wars  or  for  enabling 
banks  to  resume  cash  payments,  &c,  it  is  the  money  form,  and  no  other,  of  value 
that  may  be  wanted. 

2  I  would  desire,  indeed,  no  more  convincing  evidence  of  the  competency  of  tke 
machinery  of  the  hoards  in  specie-paying  countries  to  perform  every  necessary  office 
of  international  adjustment,  without  any  sensible  aid  from  the  general  circulation, 
than  the  facility  with  which  France,  when  but  just  recovering  from  the  shock  of  a 
destructive  foreign  invasion,  completed  within  the  space  of  27  months  the  payment 
of  her  forced  contribution  of  nearly  20  millions  to  the  allied  powers,  and  a  con- 
siderable proportion  of  the  sum  in  specie,  without  any  perceptible  contraction  or 
derangement  of  her  domestic  currency,  or  even  any  alarming  fluctuation  of  her 
exchanges."  (Fullarton,  1.  c,  p.  134.) — Note  to  the  4th  German  edition. — A  still 
more  convincing  illustration  is  given  by  the  ease  with  which  the  same  France,  in 
1871  to  1873,  was  able  to  pay  off  in  30  months  a  war  indemnity  ten  times  larger, 
and  to  a  considerable  extent  also  in  metal  money.     F.  E. 


162  Capitalist  Production. 

coins,  to  supply  the  material  of  articles  of  luxury,  and  to 
petrify  into  boards.1  This  first  current  is  started  by  the 
countries  that  exchange  their  labour,  realise  in  commodities, 
for  the  labour  embodied  in  the  precious  metals  by  gold  and 
silver-producing  countries.  On  the  other  hand,  there  is  a  con- 
tinual flowing  backwards  and  forward:  of  gold  and  silver  be- 
tween the  different  national  spheres  of  circulation,  a  current 
whose  motion  depends  on  the  ceaseless  fluctuations  in  the 
course  of  exchange.2 

Countries  in  which  the  bourgeois  form  of  production  is  de- 
veloped to  a  certain  extent,  limit  the  hoards  concentrated  in 
the  strong  rooms  of  the  banks  to  the  minimum  required  for 
the  proper  performance  of  their  peculiar  functions.3  When- 
ever these  hoards  are  strikingly  above  their  average  level,  it 
is,  with  some  exceptions,  an  indication  of  stagnation  in  the 
circulation  of  commodities,  of  an  interruption  in  the  even  flow 
of  their  metamorphoses.4 

1  "L'argent  se  partage  entre  les  nations  relativement  au  besoin  qu'elles  en  ont. 

.  .  .  etant  toujours  attire  par  les  productions."  (Le  Trosne  1.  c,  p.  916.)  "The 
mines  which  are  continually  giving  gold  and  silver,  do  give  sufficient  to  supply 
such  a  needful  balance  to  every  nation."      (J.  Vanderlint,  1.  c,  p.  40.) 

2  "Exchanges  rise  and  fall  every  week,  and  at  some  particular  times  in  the  yeaf 
run  high  against  a  nation,  and  at  other  times  run  as  high  on  the  contrary."  (N. 
Barbon,  1.  c,  p.  39.) 

8  These  various  functions  are  liable  to  come  into  dangerous  conflict  with  one  an» 
other  whenever  gold  and  silver  have  also  to  serve  as  a  fund  for  the  conversion  of 

4  "What  money  is  more  than  of  absolute  necessity  for  a  Home  Trade,  is  dead 
stock  .  .  .  and  brings  no  profit  to  that  country  it's  kept  in,  but  as  it  is  trans- 
ported in  trade,  as  well  as  imported."  (John  Bellers,  Essays,  p.  12.)  "What  if  wa 
have  too  much  coin?  We  may  melt  down  the  heaviest  and  turn  it  into  the  splendour 
of  plate,  vessels  or  utensils  of  gold  or  silver;  or  send  it  out  as  a  commodity,  where 
the  same  is  wanted  or  desired;  or  let  it  out  at  interest,  where  interest  is  high." 
(W.  Petty:  "Quantulumcunque,"  p.  39.)  "Money  is  but  the  fat  of  the  Body 
Politick,  whereof  too  much  doth  as  often  hinder  its  agility,  as  too  little  makes  it 
sick  ....  as  fat  lubricates  the  motion  of  the  muscles,  feeds  in  want  of 
victuals,  fills  up  the  uneven  cavities,  and  beautifies  the  body;  so  doth  money  in  the 
State  quicken  its  action,  feeds  from  abroad  in  time  of  dearth  at  home;  evens  ac- 
counts .  .  and  beautifies  the  whole;  altho  more  especially  the  particular  persons 
that  have  it  in  plenty."     (W.   Petty.     "Political  Anatomy  of  Ireland,"  p.-  14.) 





The  circulation  of  commodities  is  the  starting  point  of  capital. 
The  production  of  commodities,  their  circulation,  and  that 
more  developed  form  of  their  circulation  called  commerce, 
these  form  the  historical  groundwork  from  which  it  rises. 
The  modern  history  of  capital  dates  from  the  creation  in  the 
16th  century  of  a  world-embracing  commerce  and  a  world- 
embracing  market. 

If  we  abstract  from  the  material  substance  of  the  circula- 
tion of  commodities,  that  is,  from  the  exchange  of  the  various 
use-values,  and  consider  only  the  economic  forms  produced  by 
this  process  of  circulation,  we  find  its  final  result  to  be  money : 
this  final  product  of  the  circulation  of  commodities  is  the  first 
form  in  which  capital  appears. 

As  a  matter  of  history,  capital,  as  opposed  to  landed  prop- 
erty, invariably  takes  the  form  at  first  of  money ;  it  appears  as 
moneyed  wealth,  as  the  capital  of  the  merchant  and  of  the 
usurer.1  But  we  have  no  need  to  refer  to  the  origin  of  capi- 
tal in  order  to  discover  that  the  first  form  of  appearance  of 
capital  is  money.     We  can  see  it  daily  under  our  very  eyes. 

1  The  contrast  between  the  power,  based  on  the  personal  relations  of  dominion  and 
servitude,  that  is  conferred  by  landed  property,  and  the  impersonal  power  that  is 
given  by  money,  is  well  expressed  by  the  two  French  proverbs,  "Nulle  terre  sans 
seigneur,"  and  "L'argent  n'a  pas  de  maitre." 


164  Capitalist  Production. 

All  new  capital,  to  commence  with,  comes  on  the  stage,  that  is, 
on  the  market,  whether  of  commodities,  labour,  or  money,  even 
in  our  days,  in  the  shape  of  money  that  by  a  definite  process 
has  to  be  transformed  into  capital. 

The  first  distinction  we  notice  between  money  that  is  money 
only,  and  money  that  is  capital,  is  nothing  more  than  a  differ- 
ence in  their  form  of  circulation. 

The  simplest  form  of  the  circulation  of  commodities  is  C — ■ 
M — C,  the  transformation  of  commodities  into  money,  and  the 
change  of  the  money  back  again  into  commodities ;  or  selling 
in  order  to  buy.  But  alongside  of  this  form  we  find  another 
specifically  different  form:  M — C — M,  the  transformation  of 
money  into  commodities,  and  the  change  of  commodities  back 
again  into  money ;  or  buying  in  order  to  sell.  Money  that 
circulates  in  the  latter  manner  is  thereby  transformed  into, 
becomes  capital,  and  is  already  potentially  capital. 

Now  let  us  examine  the  circuit  M — C — M  a  little  closer. 
It  consists,  like  the  other,  of  two  antithetical  phases.  In  the 
first  phase,  II — C,  or  the  purchase,  the  money  is  changed  into 
a  commodity.  In  the  second  phase,  C — M,  or  the  sale,  the 
commodity  is  changed  back  again  into  money.  The  combina- 
tion of  these  two  phases  constitutes  the  single  movement 
whereby  money  is  exchanged  for  a  commodity  and  the  same 
commodity  is  again  exchanged  for  money ;  whereby  a  com- 
modity is  bought  in  order  to  be  sold,  or,  neglecting  the  dis- 
tinction in  form  between  buying  and  selling,  whereby  a 
commodity  is  bought  with  money,  and  then  money  is  bought 
with  a  commodity.1  The  result,  in  which  the  phases  of  the 
process  vanish,  is  the  exchange  of  money  for  money,  M — M. 
If  I  purchase  2000  lbs.  of  cotton  for  £100,  and  resell  the  2000 
lbs.  of  cotton  for  £110,  I  have,  in  fact,  exchanged  £100  for 
£110,  money  for  money. 

Now  it  is  evident  that  the  circuit  M — O — M  would  be  ab- 
surd and  without  meaning  if  the  intention  were  to  exchange 
by  this  means  two  equal  sums  of  money,  £100  for  £100.     The 

1  "Avec  de  1'argent  on  achete  des  marchandises,  et  avec  des  marchandises  on 
•chete  de  1'argent."  (Mercier  de  ia  Raviere:  "L'ordre  naturel  et  essentiel  des 
«ocietes   politiques,"    p.    543.) 

The  General  Formula  for  Capital.  165 

miser's  plan  would  be  far  simpler  and  surer;  he  sticks  to  his 
£100  instead  of  exposing  it  to  the  dangers  of  circulation.  And 
yet,  whether  the  merchant  who  has  paid  £100  for  his  cotton 
sells  it  for  £110,  or  lets  it  go  for  £100,  or  even  £50,  his  money 
has,  at  all  events,  gone  through  a  characteristic  and  original 
movement,  quite  different  in  kind  from  that  which  it  goes 
through  in  the  hands  of  the  peasant  who  sells  corn,  and  with 
the  money  thus  set  free  buys  clothes.  "We  have  therefore  to 
examine  first  the  distinguishing  characteristics  of  the  forms  of 
the  circuits  M — C — M  and  C — M — C,  and  in  doing  this  the 
real  difference  that  underlies  the  mere  difference  of  form  will 
reveal  itself. 

Let  us  see,  in  the  first  place,  what  the  two  forms  have  in 

Both  circuits  are  resolvable  into  the  same  two  antithetical 
phases,  C — M,  a  sale,  and  M — C,  a  purchase.  In  each  of 
these  phases  the  same  material  elements — a  commodity,  and 
money,  and  the  seme  economical  dramatis  persona?,  a  buyer 
and  a  seller — confront  one  another.  Each  circuit  is  the  unity 
of  the  same  two  antithetical  phases,  and  in  each  case  this  unity 
is  brought  about  by  the  intervention  of  three  contracting  par- 
ties, of  whom  one  only  sells,  another  only  buys,  while  the  third 
both  buys  and  sells. 

What,  however,  first  and  foremost  distinguishes  the  circuit 
C — ]\I — C  from  the  circuit  M — C — M,  is  the  inverted  order  of 
succession  of  the  two  phases.  The  simple  circulation  of  com- 
modities begins  with  a  sale  and  ends  with  a  purchase,  while 
the  circulation  of  money  as  capital  begins  with  a  purchase 
and  ends  with  a  sale.  In  the  one  case  both  the  starting- 
point  and  the  goal  are  commodities,  in  the  other  they  are 
money.  In  the  first  form  the  movement  "is  brought  about 
by  the  intervention  of  money,  in  the  second  by  that  of  a 

In  the  circulation  C — 11 — C,  the  money  is  in  the  end  con- 
verted into  a  commodity,  that  serves  as  a  use-value ;  it  is  spent 
once  for  all.  In  the  inverted  form,  M — C — M,  on  the  con- 
trary, the  buyer  lays  out  money  in  order  that,  as  a  seller,  he 
may  recover  money.     By  the  purchase  of  his  commodity  he 

1 66  Capitalist  Production. 

throws  money  into  circulation,  in  order  to  withdraw  it  again 
by  the  sale  of  the  same  commodity.  He  lets  the  money  go, 
but  only  with  the  sly  intention  of  getting  it  back  again.  The 
money,  therefore,  is  not  spent,  it  is  merely  advanced.1 

In  the  circuit  C — M — C,  the  same  piece  of  money  changes 
its  place  twice.  The  seller  gets  it  from  the  buyer  and  pays  it 
away  to  another  seller.  The  complete  circulation,  which  be- 
gins with  the  receipt,  concludes  with  the  payment,  of  money 
for  commodities.  It  is  the  very  contrary  in  the  circuit  M — 
C — M.  Here  it  is  not  the  piece  of  money  that  changes  its 
place  twice,  but  the  commodity.  The  buyer  takes  it  from  the 
hands  of  the  seller  and  passes  it  into  the  hands  of  another 
buyer.  Just  as  in  the  simple  circulation  of  commodities  the 
double  change  of  place  of  the  same  piece  of  money  effects  its 
passage  from  one  hand  into  another,  so  here  the  double  change 
of  place  of  the  same  commodity  brings  about  the  reflux  of  the 
money  to  its  point  of  departure. 

Such  reflux  is  not  dependent  on  the  commodity  being  sold 
for  more  than  was  paid  for  it.  This  circumstance  influences 
only  the  amount  of  the  money  that  comes  back.  The  reflux 
itself  takes  place,  so  soon  as  the  purchased  commodity  is  re- 
sold, in  other  words,  so  soon  as  the  circuit  M — C — If  is  com- 
pleted. We  have  here,  therefore,  a  palpable  difference  be- 
tween the  circulation  of  money  as  capital,  and  its  circulation 
as  mere  money. 

The  circuit  C — M — C  comes  completely  to  an  end,  so  soon 
as  the  money  brought  in  by  the  sale  of  one  commodity  is 
abstracted  again  by  the  purchase  of  another. 

If,  nevertheless,  there  follows  a  reflux  of  money  to  its  start- 
ing point,  this  can  only  happen  through  a  renewal  or  repeti- 
tion of  the  operation.  If  I  sell  a  quarter  of  corn  for  £3,  and 
with  this  £3  buy  clothes,  the  money,  so  far  as  I  am  concerned, 
is  spent  and  done  with.  It  belongs  to  the  clothes  merchant. 
If  I  now  sell  a  second  quarter  of  corn,  money  indeed  flows 
back  to  me,  not  however  as  a  sequel  to  the  first  transaction, 

1  "When  a  thing  is  bought  in  order  to  be  sold  again,  the  sum  employed  is  called 
money  advanced;  when  it  is  bought  not  to  be  sold,  it  may  be  said  to  be  expended."— 
(James  Steuart:  "Works,"  &c.  Edited  by  Gen,  Sir  James  Steuart,  his  son.  Lond., 
1805.     V.  I.,  p.  274.) 

The  General  Formula  for  Capital.  167 

but  in  consequence  of  its  repetition.  The  money  again  leaves 
me,  so  soon  as  I  complete  this  second  transaction  by  a  fresh 
purchase.  Therefore,  in  the  circuit  C — M — C,  the  expendi- 
ture of  money  has  nothing  to  do  with  its  reflux.  On  the  other 
hand,  in  M — C — M,  the  reflux  of  the  money  is  conditioned  by 
the  very  mode  of  its  expenditure.  Without  this  reflux,  the 
operation  fails,  or  the  process  is  interrupted  and  incomplete, 
owing  to  the  absence  of  its  complementary  and  final  phase,  the 

The  circuit  C — M — C  starts  with  one  commodity,  and 
finishes  with  another,  which  falls  out  of  circulation  and  into 
consumption.  Consumption,  the  satisfaction  of  wants,  in  one 
word,  use-value,  is  its  end  and  aim.  The  circuit  M — C — M, 
on  the  contrary,  commences  with  money  and  ends  with  money. 
Its  leading  motive,  and  the  goal  that  attracts  it,  is  therefore 
mere  exchange  value. 

In  the  simple  circulation  of  commodities,  the  two  extremes 
of  the  circuit  have  the  same  economic  form.  They  are  both 
commodities,  and  commodities  of  equal  value.  But  they  are 
also  use-values  differing  in  their  qualities,  as,  for  example, 
corn  and  clothes.  The  exchange  of  products,  of  the  different 
materials  in  which  the  labour  of  society  is  embodied,  forms 
here  the  basis  of  the  movement.  It  is  otherwise  in  the  cir- 
culation M — C — M,  which  at  first  sight  appears  purposeless, 
because  tautological.  Both  extremes  have  the  same  economic 
form.  They  are  both  money,  and  therefore  are  not  qualita- 
tively different  use-values ;  for  money  is  but  the  converted 
form  of  commodities,  in  which  their  particular  use-values 
vanish.  To  exchange  £100  for  cotton,  and  then  this  same 
cotton  again  for  £100,  is  merely  a  roundabout  way  of  ex- 
changing money  for  money,  the  same  for  the  same,  and  ap- 
pears to  be  an  operation  just  as  purposeless  as  it  is  absurd.1 

1  "On  n'echange  pas  de  Fargcnt  contre  de  l'argent,"  says  Mercier  de  la  Riviere  to 
the  Mercantilists  (1.  c.,  p.  486).  In  a  work,  which,  ex  professo,  treats  of  "trade" 
and  "speculation,"  occurs  the  following:  "All  trade  consists  in  the  exchange  of 
things  of  different  kinds;  and  the  advantage"  (to  the  merchant?)  "arises  out  of  this 
difference.  To  exchange  a  pound  of  bread  against  a  pound  of  bread  .... 
would  be  attended  with  no  advantage;  ....  Hence  trade  is  advantageously 
contrasted  with  gambling,  which  consists  in  a  mere  exchange  of  money  for  money." 
(Th.  Corbet,  "An  Inquiry  into  the  Causes  and  Modes  of  the  Wealth  of  Individuals; 

168  Capitalist  Production. 

One  sum  of  money  is  distinguishable  from  another  only  by  its 
amount.  The  character  and  tendency  of  the  process  M — C 
— M,  is  therefore  not  due  to  any  qualitative  difference  be- 
tween its  extremes,  both  being  money,  but  solely  to  their 
quantitative  difference.  More  money  is  withdrawn  from  cir- 
culation at  the  finish  than  was  thrown  into  it  at  the  start. 
The  cotton  that  was  bought  for  £100  is  perhaps  resold  for 
£100+£10  or  £110.  The  exact  form  of  this  process  is  there- 
fore K — C — M',  where  M'=M+  A  M=the  original  sum  ad- 
vanced, plus  an  increment.  This  increment  or  excess  over  the 
original  value  I  call  "surplus-value."  The  value  originally 
advanced,  therefore,  not  only  remains  intact  while  in  circula- 
tion, but  adds  to  itself  a  surplus-value  or  expands  itself.  It  is 
this  movement  that  converts  it  into  capital. 

Of  course  it  is  also  possible,  that  in  C — M — C,  the  two 
extremes  C — C,  say  corn  and  clothes,  may  represent  different 
quantities  of  value.  The  farmer  may  sell  his  corn  above  its 
value,  or  may  buy  the  clothes  at  less  than  their  value.  He 
may,  on  the  other  hand,  "be  done"  by  the  clothes  merchant. 
Yet,  in  the  form  of  circulation  now  under  consideration,  such 
differences  in  value  are  purely  accidental.  The  fact  that  the 
corn  and  the  clothes  are  equivalents,  does  not  deprive  the  pro- 
cess of  all  meaning,  as  it  does  in  M — C — M.  The  equivalence 
of  their  values  is  rather  a  necessary  condition  to  its  normal 

The  repetition  or  renewal  of  the  act  of  selling  in  order  to 
buy,  is  kept  within  bounds  by  the  very  object  it  aims  at, 
namely,  consumption  or  the  satisfaction  of  definite  wants,  an 

or  the  principles  of  Trade  and  Speculation  explained."  London,  1841,  p.  5.)  Al- 
though Corbet  does  not  see  that  M — M,  the  exchange  of  money  for  money,  is  the 
characteristic  form  of  circulation,  not  only  of  merchants'  capital  but  of  all  capital, 
yet  at  least  he  acknowledges  that  this  form  is  common  to  gambling  and  to  one  spe- 
cies of  trade,  viz.,  speculation:  but  then  comes  MacCulloch  and  makes  out,  that  to 
buy  in  order  to  sell,  is  to  speculate,  and  thus  the  difference  between  Speculation  and 
Trade  vanishes.  "Every  transaction  in  which  an  individual  buys  produce  in  order 
to  sell  it  again,  is,  in  fact,  a  speculation."  (MacCulloch:  "A  Dictionary  Practical, 
&c,  of  Commerce."  Lond.,  1847,  p.  1058.)  With  much  more  naivete,  Pinto,  the 
Pindar  of  the  Amsterdam  Stock  Exchange,  remarks,  "Le  commerce  est  un  jeu: 
(taken  from  Locke)  et  ce  n'est  pas  avec  des  gueux  qu'on  peut  gagner.  Si  Ton  gag- 
nait  long-temps  en  tout  avec  tous,  il  faudrait  rendre  de  bon  accord  les  plus  grandes 
parties  du  profit  pour  recommencer  le  jeu."  (Pinto:  "Traite  de  la  Circulation  et  du 
Credit"     Amsterdam,  1771,  p.  231.) 

The  General  Formula  for  Capital.  169 

aim  that  lies  altogether  outside  the  sphere  of  circulation.  But 
when  we  buy  in  order  to  sell,  we,  on  the  contrary,  begin  and 
end  with  the  same  thing,  money,  exchange-value;  and  thereby 
the  movement  becomes  interminable.  Ko  doubt,  M  becomes 
M|aM,  £100  become  £110.  But  when  viewed  in  their 
qualitative  aspect  alone,  £110  are  the  same  as  £100,  namely 
money;  and  considered  quantitatively,  £110  is,  like  £100,  a 
sum  of  definite  and  limited  value.  If  now,  the  £110  be  spent 
as  money,  they  cease  to  play  their  part.  They  are  no  longer 
capital.  Withdrawn  from  circulation,  they  become  petrified 
into  a  hoard,  and  though  they  remained  in  that  state  till 
doomsday,  not  a  single  farthing  would  accrue  to  them.  If, 
then,  the  expansion  of  value  is  once  aimed  at,  there  is  just  the 
same  inducement  to  augment  the  value  of  the  £110  as  that  of 
the  £100 ;  for  both  are  but  limited  expressions  for  exchange- 
value,  and  therefore  both  have  the  same  vocation  to  approach, 
by  quantitative  increase,  as  near  as  possible  to  absolute  wealth. 
Momentarily,  indeed,  the  value  originally  advanced,  the  £100 
is  distinguishable  from  the  surplus  value  of  £10  that  is  an- 
nexed to  it  during  circulation ;  but  the  distinction  vanishes 
immediately.  At  the  end  of  the  process  we  do  not  receive 
with  one  hand  the  original  £100,  and  with  the  other,  the 
eurplus-value  of  £10.  We  simply  get  a  value  of  £110,  which 
is  in  exactly  the  same  condition  and  fitness  for  commencing 
the  expanding  process,  as  the  original  £100  was.  Money  ends 
the  movement  only  to  begin  it  again.1  Therefore,  the  final 
result  of  every  separate  circuit,  in  which  a  purchase  and  con- 
sequent sale  are  completed,  forms  of  itself  the  starting  point 
of  a  new  circuit.  The  simple  circulation  of  commodities — ■ 
selling  in  order  to  buy — is  a  means  of  carrying  out  a  purpose 
unconnected  with  circulation,  namely,  the  appropriation  of 
use-values,  the  satisfaction  of  wants.  The  circulation  of 
money  as  capital  is,  on  the  contrary,  an  end  in  itself,  for  the 
expansion  of  value  takes  place  only  within  this  constantly 

1  "Capital  is  divisible  ....  into  the  original  capital  and  tne  profit,  the  incre- 
ment to  the  capital  ....  although  in  practice  this  profit  is  immediately  turned 
into  capital,  and  set  in  motion  with  the  original."  (F.  Engels,  "Umrisse  zu  einer 
Kritik  der  Nationalokonomie,  in:  Deutsch-Franzosische  Jahrbucher,  herausgegeben 
von  Arnold   Ruge  und  Karl  Marx."     Paris,   1844,  p.   99.) 

170  Capitalist  Production. 

renewed  movement.  The  circulation  of  capital  has  therefore 
no  limits.1  Thus  the  conscious  representative  of  this  move- 
ment, the  possessor  of  money  becomes  a  capitalist.  His  per- 
son, or  rather  his  pocket,  is  the  point  from  which  the  money 
starts  and  to  which  it  returns.  The  expansion  of  value, 
which  is  the  objective  basis  or  main-spring  of  the  circulation 
M — C — M,  becomes  his  subjective  aim,  and  it  is  only  in  so  far 
as  the  appropriation  of  ever  more  and  more  wealth  in  the  ab- 
stract becomes  the  sole  motive  of  his  operations,  that  he  func- 
tions as  a  capitalist,  that  is,  as  capital  personified  and  en- 
dowed with  consciousness  and  a  will.  Use-values  must  there- 
fore never  be  looked  upon  as  the  real  aim  of  the  capitalist;2 
neither  must  the  profit  on  any  single  transaction.  The  restless 
never-ending  process  of  profit-making  alone  is  what  he  aims 

1  Aristotle  opposes  (Economic  to  Chrematistic.  He  starts  from  the  former.  So 
far  as  it  is  the  art  of  gaining  a  livelihood,  it  is  limited  to  procuring  those  articles 
that  are  necessary  to  existence,  and  useful  either  to  a  household  or  the  state.  "True 
wealth  (6  aKrjdivbs  ttXoOtoj)  consists  of  such  values  in  use;  for  the  quantity  of  pos- 
sessions of  this  kind,  capable  of  making  life  pleasant,  is  not  unlimited.  There  is, 
however,  a  second  mode  of  acquiring  things,  to  which  we  may  by  preference  and 
with  correctness  give  the  name  of  Chrematistic,  and  in  this  case,  there  appear  to  be 
no  limits  to  riches  and  possessions.  Trade  (  r)  KaTrrjXiK^i  is  literally  retail  trade,  and 
Aristotle  takes  this  kind  because  in  it  values  in  use  predominate)  does  not  in  its 
nature  belong  to  Chrematistic,  for  here  the  exchange  has  reference  only  to  what  is 
necessary  to  themselves  (the  buyer  or  seller)."  Therefore,  as  he  goes  on  to  show, 
the  original  form  of  trade  was  barter,  but  with  the  extension  of  the  latter,  there 
arose  the  necessity  for  money.  On  the  discovery  of  money,  barter  of  necessity  de- 
veloped into  KairrfKiKi]  into  trading  in  commodities,  and  this  again,  in  opposition  to 
its  original  tendency,  grew  into  Chrematistic,  into  the  art  of  making  money.  Now 
Chrematistic  is  distinguishable  from  (Economic  in  this  way,  that  "in  the  case  of 
Chrematistic,  circulation  is  the  source  of  riches  (iroiTjTiirf)  XPV^ruv  ....  <5tct 
ypri/A&Twv  dia^okijs).  And  it  appears  to  revolve  about  money,  for  money  is  the  be- 
ginning and  end  of  this  kind  of  exchange  ( to  ydp  v6p.iap.a  o-roixeiov  nal  iripas  ttjs 
dWayrjs  icrriv).  Therefore  also  riches,  such  as  Chrematistic  strives  for,  are  un- 
limited. Just  as  every  art  that  is  not  a  means  to  an  end,  but  an  end  in  itself,  has 
no  limit  to  its  aims,  because  it  seeks  constantly  to  approach  nearer  and  nearer  to 
that  end,  while  those  arts  that  pursue  means  to  an  end,  are  not  boundless,  since 
the  goal  itself  imposes  a  limit  upon  them,  so  with  Chrematistic,  there  are  no  bounds 
to  its  aims,  these  aims  being  absolute  wealth.  (Economic  not  Chrematistic  has  a 
limit  ....  the  object  of  the  former  is  something  different  from  money,  of  the 
latter  the  augmentation  of  money  ....  By  confounding  these  two  forms,  which 
overlap  each  other,  some  people  have  been  led  to  look  upon  the  preservation  and 
increase  of  money  ad  infinitum  as  the  end  and  aim  of  (Economic."  (Aristotles  De 
Rep.  edit.   Bekker.   lib.   I.   c.  8,  9.   passim.) 

2  "Commodities  (here  used  in  the  sense  of  use-values)  are  not  the  terminating 
object  of  the  trading  capitalist,  money  is  his  terminating  object."  (Th.  Chalmers, 
On  Pol.  Econ.  &c,  2nd  Ed.,  Glasgow,  1832,  p.  165,  166.) 

The  General  Formula  for  Capital.  iyi 

at.1  This  boundless  greed  after  riches,  this  passionate  chase 
after  exchange-value,2  is  common  to  the  capitalist  and  the 
miser;  but  while  the  miser  is  merely  a  capitalist  gone  mad, 
the  capitalist  is  a  rational  miser.  The  never-ending  aug- 
mentation of  exchange-value,  which  the  miser  strives  after,  by 
seeking  to  save  3  his  money  from  circulation,  is  attained  by  the 
more  acute  capitalist,  by  constantly  throwing  it  afresh  into 

The  independent  form,  i.  e.,  the  money-form,  which  the 
value  of  commodities  assumes  in  the  case  of  simple  circulation, 
serves  only  one  purpose,  namely,  their  exchange,  and  vanishes 
in  the  final  result  of  the  movement.  On  the  other  hand,  in 
the  circulation  M — C — M,  both  the  money  and  the  commodity 
represent  only  different  modes  of  existence  of  value  itself,  the 
money  its  general  mode,  and  the  commodity  its  particular,  or, 
so  to  say,  disguised  mode.5  It  is  constantly  changing  from 
one  form  to  the  other  without  thereby  becoming  lost,  and  thus 
assumes  an  automatically  active  character.  If  now  we  take 
in  turn  each  of  the  two  different  forms  which  self-expanding 
value  successively  assumes  in  the  course  of  its  life,  we  then 
arrive  at  these  two  propositions:  Capital  is  money :  Capital 
is  commodities.6  In  truth,  however,  value  is  here  the  active 
factor  in  a  process,  in  which,  while  constantly  assuming  the 
form  in  turn  of  money  and  commodities,  it  at  the  same  time 
changes  in  magnitude,  differentiates  itself  by  throwing  off 
surplus-value  from  itself;  the  original  value,  in  other  words, 

1  "II  mercante  non  conta  quasi  per  niente  il  lucro  f atto,  ma  mira  sempre  al 
future"  (A.  Genovesi,  Lezioni  di  Economia  Civile  1765),  Custodi's  edit,  of  Italian 
Economists.     Parte  Moderna  t.  xiii.  p.  139.) 

2  "The  inextinguishable  passion  for  gain,  the  auri  sacra  fames,  will  always  lead 
capitalists."  (MacCulloch:  "The  principles  of  Polit.  Econ."  London,  1830,  p. 
179.)  This  view,  of  course,  does  not  prevent  the  same  MacCulloch  and  others  of  his 
kidney,  when  in  theoretical  difficulties,  such,  for  example,  as  the  question  of  over- 
production, from  transforming  the  same  capitalist  into  a  moral  citizen,  whose  sole 
concern  is  for  use-values,  and  who  even  developes  an  insatiable  hunger  for  boots, 
hats,  eggs,  calico,  and  other  extremely  familiar  sorts  of  use-values. 

32wfet»'  is  a  characteristic  Greek  expression  for  hoarding.  So  in  English  to  save 
has  the  same  two  meanings:  sauver  and  epargner. 

*  "Questo  infinite  che  le  cose  non  hanno  in  progresso,  hanno  in  giro."     (Galiani.) 

6  "Ce  n'est  pas  la  matiere  qui  fait  le  capital,  mais  la  valeur  de  ces  matieres."  (J. 
B.  Say:     "Traite  de  l'Econ.  Polit."  3eme.  ed.     Paris,  1817,  t.  1.,  p.  428.) 

•"Currency  (1)  employed  in  producing  articles  ...  is  capital."  (MacLeod: 
"The  Theory  and  Practice  of  Banking."  London,  1855,  v.  1.,  ch.  i.,  p.  55.) 
"Capital  is  commodities."  (James  Mill:  "Elements  of  Pol.  Econ."  Lond.,  1821,  p.  74.) 

172  Capitalist  Production. 

expands  spontaneously.  For  the  movement,  in  the  course  of 
which  it  adds  surplus  value,  is  its  own  movement,  its  expan- 
sion, therefore,  is  automatic  expansion.  Because  it  is  value, 
it  has  acquired  the  occult  quality  of  being  able  to  add  value 
to  itself.  It  brings  forth  living  offspring,  or,  at  the  least,  lays 
golden  eggs. 

Value,  therefore,  being  the  active  factor  in  such  a  process, 
and  assuming  at  one  time  the  form  of  money,  at  another  that 
of  commodities,  but  through  all  these  changes  preserving  itself 
and  expanding,  it  requires  some  independent  form,  by  means 
of  which  its  identity  may  at  any  time  be  established.  And 
this  form  it  possesses  only  in  the  shape  of  money.  It  is  under 
the  form  of  money  that  value  begins  and  ends,  and  begins 
again,  every  act  of  its  own  spontaneous  generation.  It  began 
by  being  £100,  it  is  now  £110,  and  so  on.  But  the  money 
itself  is  only  one  of  the  two  forms  of  value.  Unless  it  takes 
the  form  of  some  commodity,  it  does  not  become  capital. 
There  is  here  no  antagonism,  as  in  the  case  of  hoarding,  be- 
tween the  money  and  commodities.  The  capitalist  knows  that 
all  commodities,  however  scurvy  they  may  look,  or  however 
badly  they  may  smell,  are  in  faith  and  in  truth  money,  in- 
wardly circumcised  Jews,  and  what  is  more,  a  wonderful 
means  whereby  out  of  money  to  make  more  money. 

In  simple  circulation,  C — M — C,  the  value  of  commodities 
attained  at  the  most  a  form  independent  of  their  use-values, 
i.  e.,  the  form  of  money ;  but  that  same  value  now  in  the  cir- 
culation M — C — M?  or  the  circulation  of  capital,  suddenly 
presents  itself  as  an  independent  substance,  endowed  with  a 
motion  of  its  own,  passing  through  a  life-process  of  its  own, 
in  which  money  and  commodities  are  mere  forms  which  il 
assumes  and  casts  off  in  turn.  Nay,  more :  instead  of  simply 
representing  the  relations  of  commodities,  it  enters  now,  so  to 
say,  into  private  relations  with  itself.  It  differentiates  itself 
as  original  value  from  itself  as  surplus-value ;  as  the  father 
differentiates  himself  from  himself  qua  the  son,  yet  both  are 
one  and  of  one  age :  for  only  by  the  surplus  value  of  £10  does 
the  £100  originally  advanced  become  capital,  and  so  soon  as 
this  takes  place,  so  soon  as  the  son,  and  by  the  son,  the  father, 

Contradictions  in  the  Formula  of  Capital.  173 

is  begotten,  so  soon  does  their  difference  vanish,  and  they  again 
become  one,  £110. 

Value  therefore  now  becomes  value  in  process,  money  in 
process,  and,  as  such,  capital.  It  comes  out  of  circulation, 
enters  into  it  again,  preserves  and  multiplies  itself  within  its 
circuit,  comes  back  out  of  it  with  expanded  bulk,  and  begins 
the  same  round  ever  afresh.1  M — M',  money  which  begets 
money,  such  is  the  description  of  Capital  from  the  mouths 
of  its  first  interpreters,  the  Mercantilists. 

Buying  in  order  to  sell,  or,  more  accurately,  buying  in  order 
to  sell  dearer,  M — C — M',  appears  certainly  to  be  a  form 
peculiar  to  one  kind  of  capital  alone,  namely,  merchants' 
capital.  But  industrial  capital  too  is  money,  that  is  changed 
into  commodities,  and  by  the  sale  of  these  commodities,  is  re- 
converted into  more  money.  The  events  that  take  place  out- 
side the  sphere  of  circulation,  in  the  interval  between  the  buy- 
ing and  selling,  do  not  affect  the  form  of  this  movement. 
Lastly,  in  the  case  of  interest-bearing  capital,  the  circulation 
M — C — M'  appears  abridged.  We  have  its  result  without  the 
intermediate  stage,  in  the  form  M — M',  "en  style  lapidaire" 
so  to  say,  money  that  is  worth  more  money,  value  that  is 
greater  than  itself. 

M — C — M'  is  therefore  in  reality  the  general  formula  of 
capital  as  it  appears  prima  facie  within  the  sphere  of  circula- 



The  form  which  circulation  takes  when  money  becomes  cap- 
ital, is  opposed  to  all  the  laws  we  have  hitherto  investigated 
bearing  on  the  nature  of  commodities,  value  and  money,  and 
even  of  circulation  itself.  What  distinguishes  this  form  from 
that  of  the  simple  circulation  of  commodities,  is  the  inverted 

1  Capital:  "portion  fructifiante  de  la  richesse  accumulee  .     .     .  valeur  permanente, 
tnultipliante."     (Sismondi:   "Nouveaux  principes  de  l'econ.  polit.,"  t.  i.,  p.   88,   89.) 

174  Capitalist  Production. 

order  of  succession  of  the  two  antithetical  processes,  sale  and 
purchase.  How  can  this  purely  formal  distinction  between 
these  processes  change  their  character  as  it  were  by  magic  ? 

But  that  is  not  all.  This  inversion  has  no  existence  for  two 
out  of  the  three  persons  who  transact  business  together.  As 
capitalist,  I  buy  commodities  from  A  and  sell  them  again  to  B, 
but  as  a  simple  owner  of  commodities,  I  sell  them  to  B  and 
then  purchase  fresh  ones  from  A.  A  and  B  see  no  difference 
between  the  two  sets  of  transactions.  They  are  merely  buyers 
or  sellers.  And  I  on  each  occasion  meet  them  as  a  mere  owner 
of  either  money  or  commodities,  as  a  buyer  or  a  seller,  and, 
what  is  more,  in  both  sets  of  transactions,  I  am  opposed  to  A 
only  as  a  buyer  and  to  B  only  as  a  seller,  to  the  one  only  as 
money,  to  the  other  only  as  commodities,  and  to  neither  of 
them  as  capital  or  a  capitalist,  or  as  representative  of  anything 
that  is  more  than  money  or  commodities,  or  that  can  produce 
any  effect  beyond  what  money  and  commodities  can.  For  me 
the  purchase  from  A  and  the  sale  to  B  are  part  of  a  series. 
But  the  connexion  between  the  two  acts  exists  for  me  alone. 
A  does  not  trouble  himself  about  my  transaction  with  B,  nor 
does  B  about  my  business  with  A.  And  if  I  offered  to  explain 
to  them  the  meritorious  nature  of  my  action  in  inverting  the 
order  of  succession,  they  would  probably  point  out  to  me  that 
I  was  mistaken  as  to  that  order  of  succession,  and  that  the 
whole  transaction,  instead  of  beginning  with  a  purchase  and 
ending  with  a  sale,  began,  on  the  contrary,  with  a  sale  and  was 
concluded  with  a  purchase.  In  truth,  my  first  act,  the  pur- 
chase, was  from  the  standpoint  of  A,  a  sale,  and  my  second  act, 
the  sale,  was  from  the  standpoint  of  B,  a  purchase.  Not  con- 
tent with  that,  A  and  B  would  declare  that  the  whole  series 
was  superfluous  and  nothing  but  Hokus  Pokus;  that  for  the 
future  B  would  buy  direct  from  A,  and  A  sell  direct  to  B. 
Thus  the  whole  transaction  would  be  reduced  to  a  single  act 
forming  an  isolated,  non-complemented  phase  in  the  ordinary 
circulation  of  commodities,  a  mere  sale  from  A's  point  of  view, 
and  from  B's,  a  mere  purchase.  The  inversion,  therefore,  of 
the  order  of  succession,  does  not  take  us  outside  the  sphere  of 
the  simple  circulation  of  commodities,  and  we  must  rather 

Contradictions  in  the  Formula  of  Capital.  175 

look,  whether  there  is  in  this  simple  circulation  anything  per- 
mitting an  expansion  of  the  value  that  enters  into  circulation, 
and,  consequently,  a  creation  of  surplus-value. 

Let  us  take  the  process  of  circulation  in  a  form  under  which 
it  presents  itself  as  a  simple  and  direct  exchange  of  com- 
modities. This  is  always  the  case  when  two  owners  of  com- 
modities buy  from  each  other,  and  on  the  settling  day  the 
amounts  mutually  owing  are  equal  and  cancel  each  other. 
The  money  in  this  case  is  money  of  account  and  serves  to  ex- 
press the  value  of  the  commodities  by  their  prices,  but  is  not, 
itself,  in  the  shape  of  hard  cash,  confronted  with  them.  So 
far  as  regards  use-values,  it  is  clear  that  both  parties  may  gain 
some  advantage.  Both  part  with  goods  that,  as  use-values,  are 
of  no  service  to  them,  and  receive  others  that  they  can  make 
use  of.  And  there  may  also  be  a  further  gain.  A,  who  sells 
wine  and  buys  corn,  possibly  produces  more  wine,  with  given 
labour  time,  than  farmer  B  could,  and  B,  on  the  other  hand, 
more  corn  than  wine-grower  A  could.  A,  therefore,  may  get, 
for  the  same  exchange  value,  more  corn,  and  B  more  wine, 
than  each  would  respectively  get  without  any  exchange  by  pro- 
ducing his  own  corn  and  wine.  With  reference,  therefore,  to 
use-value,  there  is  good  ground  for  saying  that  "exchange  is  a 
transaction  by  which  both  sides  gain."  *  It  is  otherwise  with 
exchange  value.  "A  man  who  has  plenty  of  wine  and  no  corn 
treats  with  a  man  who  has  plenty  of  corn  and  no  wine ;  an  ex- 
change takes  place  between  them  of  corn  to  the  value  of  50, 
for  wine  of  the  same  value.  This  act  produces  no  increase  of 
exchange  value  either  for  the  one  or  the  other ;  for  each  of 
them  already  possessed,  before  the  exchange,  a  value  equal 
to  that  which  he  acquired  by  means  of  that  operation."  2  The 
result  is  not  altered  by  introducing  money,  as  a  medium  of  cir- 
culation, between  the  commodities,  and  making  the  sale  and 
the  purchase  two  distinct  acts.3     The  value  of  a  commodity  is 

1  "L'echange  est  une  transaction  admirable  dans  laquelle  les  deux  contractants 
gagnent — toujours  (!)"  (Destutt  de  Tracy:  "Traite  de  la  Volonte  et  de  ses  effets." 
Paris,  1826,  p.  68.)     This  work  appeared  afterwards  as  "Traite  de  l'Econ.  Polit. 

2  "Mercier   de  la  Riviere,"   1.   c.  p.  544. 

3  "Que  l'une  de  ces  deux  valeurs  soit  argent,  ou  qu'elles  soient  toutes  deux  mar- 
chandises  usuelles,  rien  de  plus  indifferent  en  soi."  (Mercier  de  la  Riview," 
1.  c  p.   543.) 

176  Capitalist  Production. 

expressed  in  its  price  before  it  goes  into  circulation,  and  is 
therefore  a  precedent  condition  of  circulation,  not  its  result.1 
Abstractedly  considered,  that  is,  apart  from  circumstances 
not  immediately  flowing  from  the  laws  of  the  simple  circula- 
tion of  commodities,  there  is  in  an  exchange  nothing  (if  we 
except  the  replacing  of  one  use-value  by  another)  but  a 
metamorphosis,  a  mere  change  in  the  form  of  the  commodity. 
The  same  exchange  value,  i.e.,  the  same  quantity  of  incor- 
porated social  labour,  remains  throughout  in  the  hands  of  the 
owner  of  the  commodity  first  in  the  shape  of  his  own  com- 
modity, then  in  the  form  of  the  money  for  which  he  exchanged 
it,  and  lastly,  in  the  shape  of  the  commodity  he  buys  with  that 
money.  This  change  of  form  does  not  imply  a  change  in  the 
magnitude  of  the  value.  But  the  change,  which  the  value  of 
the  commodity  undergoes  in  this  process,  is  limited  to  a  change 
in  its  money  form.  This  form  exists  first  as  the  price  of  the 
commodity  offered  for  sale,  then  as  an  actual  sum  of  money, 
which,  however,  was  already  expressed  in  the  price,  and  lastly, 
as  the  price  of  an  equivalent  commodity.  This  change  of 
form  no  more  implies,  taken  alone,  a  change  in  the  quantity 
of  value,  than  does  the  change  of  a  £5  note  into  sovereigns, 
half  sovereigns  and  shillings.  So  far  therefore  as  the  circula- 
tion of  commodities  effects  a  change  in  the  form  alone  of  their 
values,  and  is  free  from  disturbing  influences,  it  must  be  the 
exchange  of  equivalents.  Little  as  Vulgar-Economy  knows 
about  the  nature  of  value,  yet  whenever  it  wishes  to  consider 
the  phenomena  of  circulation  in  their  purity,  it  assumes  that 
supply  and  demand  are  equal,  which  amounts  to  this,  that  their 
effect  is  nil.  If  therefore,  as  regards  the  use-values  ex- 
changed, both  buyer  and  seller  may  possibly  gain  something, 
this  is  not  the  case  as  regards  the  exchange  values.  Here  we 
must  rather  say,  "Where  equality  exists  there  can  be  no  gain."2 
It  is  true,  commodities  may  be  sold  at  prices  deviating  from 
their  values,  but  these  deviations  are  to  be  considered  as  in- 

1  "Ce   ne   sont    pas   les    contractants   qui    prononcent   sur   valeur;    eile    est    deridee 
tvant  la  convention."     ("Le  Trosne,"  p.  906.) 

2  "Dove    e    egualita    non    e    lucro."     (Galiani,    "Delia    Moneta    in    Custodi,    Paite 
Moderna,"  t.  iv.  p.  244.) 

Contradictions  in  the  Formula  of  Capital.  177 

fractions  of  the  laws  of  the  exchange  of  commodites,1  which, 
in  its  normal  state  is  an  exchange  of  equivalents,  consequently, 
no  method  for  increasing  value.2 

Hence,  we  see  that  behind  all  attempts  to  represent  the 
circulation  of  commodities  as  a  source  of  surplus-value,  there 
lurks  a  quid  pro  quo,  a  mixing  up  of  use-value  and  exchange 
value.  For  instance,  Condillac  says :  "It  is  not  true  that  on 
an  exchange  of  commodities  we  give  value  for  value.  On  the 
contrary,  each  of  the  two  contracting  parties  in  every  case, 
gives  a  less  for  a  greater  value.  ...  If  we  really  exchanged 
equal  values,  neither  party  could  make  a  profit.  And  yet, 
they  both  gain,  or  ought  to  gain.  Why  ?  The  value  of  a 
thing  consists  solely  in  its  relation  to  our  wants.  What  is 
more  to  the  one  is  less  to  the  other,  and  vice  versK.  ...  It 
is  not  to  be  assumed  that  we  offer  for  sale  articles  required  for 
our  own  consumption.  .  .  .  We  wish  to  part  with  a  use- 
less thing,  in  order  to  get  one  that  we  need ;  we  want  to  give 
less  for  more.  ...  It  was  natural  to  think  that,  in  an  ex- 
change, value  was  given  for  value,  whenever  each  of  the  ar- 
ticles exchanged  was  of  equal  value  with  the  same  quantity 
of  gold.  .  .  .  But  there  is  another  point  to  be  considered  in 
our  calculation.  The  question  is,  whether  we  both  exchange 
something  superfluous  for  something  necessary."3  We  see  in 
this  passage,  how  Condillac  not  only  confuses  use-value  with 
exchange  value,  but  in  a  really  childish  manner  assumes,  that 
in  a  society,  in  which  the  production  of  commodities  is  well 
developed,  each  producer  produces  his  own  means  of  subsis- 
tence, and  throws  into  circulation  only  the  excess  over  his  own 
requirements.4     Still,  Condillac's  argument  is  frequently  used 

1  "Lechange  devient  desavantageux  pour  l'une  des  parties,  lorsque  quelque  chose 
etrangere  vient  diminuer  ou  exagerer  le  prix;  alors  l'egalite  est  blessee,  mais  la 
lesion  procede  de  cette  cause  et  non  de  l'echange."      ("Le  Trosne,"  1.  c.  p.  904.) 

2  "L'echange  est  de  sa  nature  un  contrat  d'egalite  qui  se  fait  de  valeur  pour  valeur 
egale.  II  n'est  done  pas  un  moyen  de  s'enrichir,  puisque  Ton  donne  autant  que  Ton 
recoit."     ("Le  Trosne,"  1.  c.  p.  903.) 

8  Condillac:  "Le  Commerce  et  le  Gouvernement"  (1776).  Edit.  Daire  et  Molinari 
in  the  "Melanges  d'Econ.   Polit."     Paris,   1847,  p.  267,   etc. 

4  Le  Trosne,  therefore,  answers  his  friend  Condillac  with  justice  as  follows:  "Dans 
une  .  .  .  societe  formee  il  n'y  a  pas  de  surabondant  en  aucun  genre."  At  the 
same  time,  in  a  bantering  way,  he  remarks:  "If  both  the  persons  who  exchange  re- 
ceive more  to  an  equal  amount,  and  part  with  less  to  an  equal  amount,  they  both  get 
the   same."     It    is   because    Condillac    has    not   the   remotest   idea   of   the    nature   of 


178  Capitalist  Production. 

by  modern  economists,  more  especially  when  the  point  is  to 
show,  that  the  exchange  of  commodities  in  its  developed  form, 
commerce,  is  productive  of  surplus-value.  For  instance, 
"Commerce  ....  adds  value  to  products,  for  the  same  prod- 
ucts in  the  hands  of  consumers,  are  worth  more  than  in  the 
hands  of  producers,  and  it  may  strictly  be  considered  an  act  of 
production."1  But  commodities  are  not  paid  for  twice  over, 
once  on  account  of  their  use-value,  and  again  on  account  of 
their  value.  And  though  the  use-value  of  a  commodity  is 
more  servicable  to  the  buyer  than  to  the  seller,  its  money  form 
is  more  serviceable  to  the  seller.  "Would  he  otherwise  sell  it? 
We  might  therefore  just  as  well  say  that  the  buyer  performs 
"strictly  an  act  of  production,"  by  converting  stockings,  for 
example,  into  money. 

If  commodities,  or  commodities  and  money,  of  equal  ex- 
change-value, and  consequently  equivalents,  are  exchanged,  it 
is  plain  that  no  one  abstracts  more  value  from,  than  he  throws 
into,  circulation.  There  is  no  creation  of  surplus-value. 
And,  in  its  normal  form,  the  circulation  of  commodities  de- 
mands the  exchange  of  equivalents.  But  in  actual  practice, 
the  process  does  not  retain  its  normal  form.  Let  us,  there- 
fore, assume  an  exchange  of  non-equivalents. 

In  any  case  the  market  for  commodities  is  only  frequented 
by  owners  of  commodities,  and  the  power  which  these  persons 
exercise  over  each  other,  is  no  other  than  the  power  of  their 
commodities.  The  material  variety  of  these  commodities  is  the 
material  incentive  to  the  act  of  exchange,  and  makes  buyers 
and  sellers  mutually  dependent,  because  none  of  them  possesses 
the  object  of  his  own  wants,  and  each  holds  in  his  hand  the 
object  of  another's  wants.  Besides  these  material  differences 
of  their  use-values,  there  is  only  one  other  difference  between 
commodities,  namely,  that  between  their  bodily  form  and  the 
form  into  which  they  are  converted  by  sale,  the  difference  be- 

exchange  value  that  he  has  heen  chosen  by  Herr  Professor  Wilhelm  Roscher  as  a 
proper  person  to  answer  for  the  soundness  of  his  own  childish  notions.  See 
Roscher's    "Die    Grundlagen    der    Nationalokomonie,    Dritte    Auflage,"    1858. 

1 S.  P.  Newman:  "Elements  of  Polit.  Econ."  Andover  and  New  York,  1835, 
p.  176. 

Contradictions  in  the  Formula  of  Capital.  179 

tween  commodities  and  money.  And  consequently  the  owners 
of  commodities  are  distinguishable  only  as  sellers,  those  who 
own  commodities,  and  buyers,  those  who  own  money. 

Suppose  then,  that  by  some  inexplicable  privilege,  the  seller 
is  enabled  to  sell  his  commodities  above  their  value,  what  is 
worth  100  for  110,  in  which  case  the  price  is  nominally  raised 
10%.  The  seller  therefore  pockets  a  surplus  value  of  10. 
But  after  he  has  sold  he  becomes  a  buyer.  A  third  owner  of 
commodities  comes  to  him  now  as  seller,  who  in  this  capacity 
also  enjoys  the  privilege  of  selling  his  commodities  10%  too 
dear.  Our  friend  gained  10  as  a  seller  only  to  lose  it  again  as 
a  buyer.1  The  nett  result  is,  that  all  owners  of  commodities 
sell  their  goods  to  one  another  at  10%  above  their  value,  which 
comes  precisely  to  the  same  as  if  they  sold  them  at  their  true 
value.  Such  a  general  and  nominal  rise  of  prices  has  the 
same  effect  as  if  the  values  had  been  expressed  in  weight  of 
silver  instead  of  in  weight  of  gold.  The  nominal  prices  of 
commodities  would  rise,  but  the  real  relation  between  their 
values  would  remain  unchanged. 

Let  us  make  the  opposite  assumption,  that  the  buyer  has 
the  privilege  of  purchasing  commodities  under  their  value. 
In  this  case  it  is  no  longer  necessary  to  bear  in  mind  that  he 
in  his  turn  wll  become  a  seller.  He  was  so  before  he  became 
buyer;  he  had  already  lost  10%  in  selling  before  he  gained 
10%  as  buyer.2     Everything  is  just  as  it  was. 

The  creation  of  surplus-value,  and  therefore  the  conversion 
of  money  into  capital,  can  consequently  be  explained  neither 
on  the  assumption  that  commodities  are  sold  above  their  value, 
nor  that  they  are  bought  below  their  value.3 

1  "By  the  augmentation  of  the  nominal  value  of  the  produce  .  .  .  sellers  not  en- 
riched .  .  .  since  what  they  gain  as  sellers,  they  precisely  expend  in  the  quality  of 
buyers."  ("The  Essential  Principles  of  the  Wealth  of  Nations,"  &c,  London,  1797, 
p.  66.) 

*  "Si  Ton  est  force  de  donner  pour  18  livres  une  quantite  de  telle  production  qui 
en  valait  24,  lorsqu'on  employera  ce  meme  argent  a  acheter,  on  aura  egalement  pour 
18  1.  ce  que  l'on  payait  24."      ("Le  Trosne,"   1.  c.   p.   897.) 

3  "Chaque  vendeur  ne  peut  done  parvenir  a  rencherir  habituellement  ses  merchan- 
dises, qu'en  se  soumettant  aussi  a  payer  habituellement  plus  cher  les  marchandises 
des  autres  vendeurs;  et  par  la  meme  raison,  chaque  consommateur  ne  peut  payer 
habituellement  moins  cher  ce  qu'il  achete,  qu'en  se  soumettant  aussi  a  une  diminu- 
tion semblable  sur  le  prix  des  choses  qu  il  vend."  (Mercier  de  la  Raviere,"  1.  c  p. 

180  Capitalist  Production. 

The  problem  is  in  no  way  simplified  by  introducing  irrele- 
vant matters  after  the  manner  of  Col.  Torrens :  "Effectual 
demand  consists  in  the  power  and  inclination  (  !),  on  the  part 
of  consumers,  to  give  for  commodities,  either  by  immediate  or 
circuitous  barter,  some  greater  portion  of  .  .  .  capital  than 
their  production  costs."  *  In  relation  to  circulation,  producers 
and  consumers  meet  only  as  buyers  and  sellers.  To  assert 
that  the  surplus-value  acquired  by  the  producer  has  its  origin 
in  the  fact  that  consumers  pay  for  commodities  more  than  their 
value,  is  only  to  say  in  other  words:  The  owner  of  commod- 
ities possesses,  as  a  seller,  the  privilege  of  selling  too  dear. 
The  seller  has  himself  produced  the  commodities  or  represents 
their  producer,  but  the  buyer  has  to  no  less  extent  produced 
the  commodities  represented  by  his  money,  or  represents  their 
producer.  The  distinction  between  them  is,  that  one  buys  and 
the  other  sells.  The  fact  that  the  owner  of  the  commodities, 
under  the  designation  of  producer,  sells  them  over  their  value, 
and  under  the  designation  of  consumer,  pays  too  much  for 
them,  does  not  carry  us  a  single  step  further.2 

To  be  consistent  therefore,  the  upholders  of  the  delusion  that 
surplus-value  has  its  origin  in  a  nominal  rise  of  prices  or  in 
the  privilege  which  the  seller  has  of  selling  too  dear,  must 
assume  the  existence  of  a  class  that  only  buys  and  does  not  sell, 
i.e. ,  only  consumes  and  does  not  produce.  The  existence  of 
such  a  class  is  inexplicable  from  the  standpoint  we  have  so  far 
reached,  viz.,  that  of  simple  circulation.  But  let  us  anticipate. 
The  money  with  which  such  a  class  is  constantly  making  pur- 
chases, must  constantly  flow  into  their  pockets,  without  any 
exchange,  gratis,  by  might  or  right,  from  the  pockets  of  the 
commodity-owners  themselves.  To  sell  commodities  above 
their  value  to  such  a  class,  is  only  to  crib  back  again  a  part 
of  the  money  previously  given  to  it.3     The  towns  of  Asia 

JR.  Torrens:  "An  Essay  on  the  Production  of  Wealth."  London,  1821,  p.  349. 

2  "TKe  idea  of  profits  being  paid  by  the  consumers,  is,  assuredly,  very  absurd 
Who  are  the  consumers?"  (G.  Ramsay:  "An  Essay  on  the  Distribution  of  Wealth." 
Edinburgh,  JS36,  p.  183.) 

8  "When  a  man  is  in  want  of  a  demand,  does  Mr.  Malthus  recommend  him  to 
pay  some  other  person  to  take  off  his  goods?"  is  a  question  put  by  an  angry  disciple 
of  Ricardo  to  Malthus,  who,  like  his  disciple,  Parson  Chalmers,  economically  glori- 
fies this  class  of  simple  buyers  or  consumers.      (See  "An  Inquiry  into  those  princi- 

Contradictions  in  the  Formula  of  Capital.  181 

Minor  thus  paid  a  yearly  money  tribute  to  ancient  Rome. 
With  this  money  Rome  purchased  from  them  commodities,  and 
purchased  them  too  dear.  The  provincials  cheated  the  Ro- 
mans, and  thus  got  back  from  their  conquerors,  in  the  course 
of  trade,  a  portion  of  the  tribute.  Yet,  for  all  that,  the  con- 
quered were  the  really  cheated.  Their  goods  were  still  paid 
for  with  their  own  money.  That  is  not  the  way  to  get  rich  or 
to  create  surplus-value. 

Let  us  therefore  keep  within  the  bounds  of  exchange  where 
sellers  are  also  buyers,  and  buyers,  sellers.  Our  difficulty  may 
perhaps  have  arisen  from  treating  the  actors  as  personifications 
instead  of  as  individuals. 

A  may  be  clever  enough  to  get  the  advantage  of  B  or  C 
without  their  being  able  to  retaliate.  A  sells  wine  worth  £40 
to  B,  and  obtains  from  him  in  exchange  corn  to  the  value  of 
£50.  A  has  converted  his  £40  into  £50,  has  made  more  money 
out  of  less,  and  has  converted  his  commodities  into  capital. 
Let  us  examine  this  a  little  more  closely.  Before  the  exchange 
we  had  £40  worth  of  wine  in  the  hands  of  A,  and  £50  worth 
of  corn  in  those  of  B,  a  total  value  of  £90.  After  the  exchange 
we  have  still  the  same  total  value  of  £90.  The  value  in  cir- 
culation has  not  increased  by  one  iota,  it  is  only  distributed 
differently  between  A  and  B.  What  is  a  loss  of  value  to  B 
is  surplus-value  to  A ;  what  is  "minus"  to  one  is  "plus"  to  the 
other.  The  same  change  would  have  taken  place,  if  A,  with- 
out the  formality  of  an  exchange,  had  directly  stolen  the  £10 
from  B.  The  sum  of  the  values  in  circulation  can  clearly  not 
be  augmented  by  any  change  in  their  distribution,  any  more 
than  the  quantity  of  the  precious  metals  in  a  country  by  a 
Jew  selling  a  Queen  Ann's  farthing  for  a  guinea.  The  cap- 
italist class,  as  a  whole,  in  any  country,  cannot  over-reach 

Turn  and  twist  then  as  we  may,  the  fact  remains  unaltered. 

pies  respecting  the  Nature  of  Demand  and  the  necessity  of  Consumption,  lately  ad- 
vocated by  Mr.  Malthus,"  &c.     Lond.,  1821,  p.  55.) 

1  Destutt  de  Tracy,  although,  or  perhaps  because,  he  was  a  member  of  the  Insti- 
tute, held  the  opposite  view.  He  says,  industrial  capitalists  make  profits  because 
"they  all  sell  for  more  than  it  has  cost  to  produce.  And  to  whom  do  they  sell? 
In  the  first  instance  to  one  another."     (1.  c,  p.  239.) 

1 82  Capitalist  Production. 

If  equivalents  are  exchanged,  no  surplus-value  results,  and  if 
non-equivalents  are  exchanged,  still  no  surplus-value.1  Cir- 
culation, or  the  exchange  of  commodities,  begets  no  value.2 

The  reason  is  now  therefore  plain  why,  in  analysing  the 
standard  form  of  capital,  the  form  under  which  it  determines 
the  economical  organisation  of  modern  society,  we  entirely 
left  out  of  consideration  its  most  popular,  and,  so  to  say,  ante- 
diluvian forms,  merchants'  capital  and  money-lenders'  capital. 

The  circuit  M — C — M',  buying  in  order  to  sell  dearer,  is 
seen  nuost  clearly  in  genuine  merchants'  capital.  But  the 
movement  takes  place  entirely  within  the  sphere  of  circulation. 
Since,  however,  it  is  impossible,  by  circulation  alone,  to  ac- 
count for  the  conversion  of  money  into  capital,  for  the  forma- 
tion of  surplus-value,  it  would  appear,  that  merchants'  capital 
is  an  impossibility,  so  long  as  equivalents  are  exchanged  ;3  that, 
therefore,  it  can  only  have  its  origin  in  the  twofold  advantage 
gained,  over  both  the  selling  and  the  buying  producers,  by  the 
merchant  who  parasitically  shoves  himself  in  between  them. 
It  is  in  this  sense  that  Franklin  says,  "war  is  robbery,  com- 
merce is  generally  cheating."4  If  the  transformation  of 
merchants'  money  into  capital  is  to  be  explained  otherwise 
than  by  the  producers  being  simply  cheated,  a  long  series  of 
intermediate  steps  would  be  necessary,  which,  at  present,  when 

1  "L'echange  qui  se  fait  de  deux  valeurs  egales  n'augmente  ni  ne  diminue  la 
masse   des  valeurs  subsistantes  dans  la  societe.     L'echange    de   deux   valeurs   inegales 

ne  change  rien  non  plus  a  la  somme  des  valeurs  sociales,  bien  qu'il  ajoute 
a  la  fortune  de  l'un  ce  pu'il  ote  de  la  fortune  de  1'autre."  J.  B.  Say,  1.  c.  t.  I., 
pp.  344,  345.)  Say,  not  in  the  least  troubled  as  to  the  consequences  of  this  state- 
ment, borrows  it,  almost  word  for  word,  from  the  Physiocrats.  The  following  example 
will  shew  how  Monsieur  Say  turned  to  account  the  writings  of  the  Physiocrats,  in 
his  day  quite  forgotten,  for  the  purpose  of  expanding  the  "value"  of  his  own.  His 
most  celebrated  saying,  "On  n'achete  des  produits  qu'avec  des  produits"  (1.  c,  t.  II., 
p.  438)  runs  as  follows  in  the  original  physiocratic  work:  "Les  productions  ne  se 
paient  qu'avec  des  productions."      ("Le  Trosne,"  1.  c,  p.  S99.) 

2  "Exchange  confers  no  value  at  all  upon  products."  (F.  Wayland:  "The  Ele- 
ments of   Political   Economy."     Boston,   1853,   p.    168.) 

3  Under  the  rule  of  invariable  equivalents  commerce  would  be  impossible.  (G. 
Opdyke:  "A  Treatise  on  Polit  Economy."  New  York,  1851,  p.  68-69.)  "The  dif- 
ference between  real  value  and  exchange-value  is  based  upon  this  fact,  namely,  that 
the  value  of  a  thing  is  different  from  the  socalled  equivalent  given  for  it  in  trade, 
i.e.,   that   this   equivalent   is   no  equivalent."      (F.    Engels,    1.    c.    p.    96.) 

4  Benjamin  Franklin:  Works,  Vol.  II.  edit.  Sparks  in  "Positions  to  be  examined 
concerning    National    Wealth,"   p.   376. 

Contradictions  in  the  Formula  of  Capital.  183 

the  simple  circulation  of  commodities  forms  our  only  assump- 
tion, are  entirely  wanting. 

What  we  have  said  with  reference  to  merchants'  capital, 
applies  still  more  to  money-lenders'  capital.  In  merchants' 
capital,  the  two  extremes,  the  money  that  is  thrown  upon  the 
market,  and  the  augmented  money  that  is  withdrawn  from  the 
market,  are  at  least  connected  by  a  purchase  and  a  sale,  in 
other  words  by  the  movement  of  the  circulation.  In  money- 
lenders' capital  the  form  M — C — M'  is  reduced  to  the  two  ex- 
tremes without  a  mean,  M — M',  money  exchanged  for  more 
money,  a  form  that  is  incompatible  with  the  nature  of  money, 
and  therefore  remains  inexplicable  from  the  standpoint  of  the 
circulation  of  commodities.  Hence  Aristotle :  "since  chrema- 
tistic  is  a  double  science,  one  part  belonging  to  commerce,  the 
other  to  economic,  the  latter  being  necessary  and  praiseworthy, 
the  former  based  on  circulation  and  with  justice  disapproved 
(for  it  is  not  based  on  Xature,  but  on  mutual  cheating),  there- 
fore the  usurer  is  most  rightly  hated,  because  money  itself  is 
the  source  of  his  gain,  and  is  not  used  for  the  purposes  for 
which  it  was  invented.  For  it  originated  for  the  exchange  of 
commodities,  but  interest  makes  out  of  money,  more  money. 
Hence  its  name  (  tokos  interest  and  offspring).  For  the  be- 
gotten are  like  those  who  beget  them.  But  interest  is  money 
of  money,  so  that  of  all  modes  of  making  a  living,  this  is  the 
most  contrary  to  nature."  x 

In  the  course  of  our  investigation,  we  shall  find  that  both 
merchants'  capital  and  interest-bearing  capital  are  derivative 
forms,  and  at  the  same  time  it  will  become  clear,  why  these 
two  forms  appear  in  the  course  of  history  before  the  modern 
standard  form  of  capital. 

We  have  shown  that  surplus-value  cannot  be  created  by 
circulation,  and,  therefore,  that  in  its  formation,  something 
must  take  place  in  the  background,  which  is  not  apparent  in 
the  circulation  itself.2  But  can  surplus-value  possibly  origin- 
ate anywhere  else  than  in  circulation,  which  is  the  sum  total 

1  Aristotle,   1.    c.   c.    10. 

*  Profit,  in  the  usual  condition  of  the  market,  is  not  made  by  exchanging.  Had 
it  not  existed  before,  neither  could  it  after  that  transaction."  (Ramsay,  1.  c.,  p. 

184  Capitalist  Production. 

of  all  the  mutual  relations  of  commodity-owners,  as  far  as  they 
are  determined  by  their  commodities  ?  Apart  from  circula- 
tion, the  commodity-owner  is  in  relation  only  with  his  own 
commodity.  So  far  as  regards  value,  that  relation  is 
limited  to  this,  that  the  commodity  contains  a  quantity  of  his 
labour,  that  quantity  being  measured  by  a  definite  social 
standard.  This  quantity  is  expressed  by  the  value  of  the 
commodity,  and  since  the  value  is  reckoned  in  money  of  ac- 
count, this  quantity  is  also  expressed  by  the  price,  which  we 
will  suppose  to  be  £10.  But  his  labour  is  not  represented  both 
by  the  value  of  the  commodity,  and  by  a  surplus  over  that 
value,  not  by  a  price  of  10  that  is  also  a  price  of  11,  not  by  a 
value  that  is  greater  than  itself.  The  commodity  owner  canf 
by  his  labour,  create  value,  but  not  self-expanding  value.  He 
can  increase  the  value  of  his  commodity,  by  adding  fresh 
labour,  and  therefore  more  value  to  the  value  in  hand,  by  mak- 
ing, for  instance,  leather  into  boots.  The  same  material  has 
now  more  value,  because  it  contains  a  greater  quantity  of 
labour.  The  boots  have  therefore  more  value  than  the  leather, 
but  the  value  of  the  leather  remains  what  it  was ;  it  has  not 
expanded  itself,  has  not,  during  the  making  of  the  boots,  an- 
nexed surplus  value.  It  is  therefore  impossible  that  outside 
the  sphere  of  circulation,  a  producer  of  commodities  can,  with- 
out coming  into  contact  with  other  commodity  owners,  ex- 
pand value,  and  consequently  convert  money  or  commodities 
into  capital. 

It  is  therefore  impossible  for  capital  to  be  produced  by  cir- 
culation, and  it  is  equally  impossible  for  it  to  originate  apart 
from  circulation.  It  must  have  its  origin  both  in  circulation 
and  yet  not  in  circulation. 

We  have,  therefore,  got  a  double  result. 

The  conversion  of  money  into  capital  has  to  be  explained  on 
the  basis  of  the  laws  that  regulate  the  exchange  of  commod- 
ities, in  such  a  way  that  the  starting  point  is  the  exchange  of 
equivalents.1     Our  friend,  Moneybags,  who  as  yet  is  only  an 

1  From  the  foregoing  investigation,  the  reader  will  sec  that  this  statement  only 
means  that  the  formation  of  capital  must  be  possible  even  though  the  price  and  value 
of  a  commodity  be  the  same;  for  its  formation  cannot  be  attributed  to  any  deviation 
of  the  one  from  the  other.     If  prices  actually  differ  from  values,   we  must,  first  of 

The  Buying  and  Selling  of  Labour-Power.        185 

embryo  capitalist,  must  buy  bis  commodities  at  their  value, 
must  sell  tbem  at  their  value,  and  yet  at  the  end  of  the  pro- 
cess must  withdraw  more  value  from  circulation  than  he  threw 
into  it  at  starting.  His  development  into  a  full-grown  capi- 
talist must  take  place,  both  within  the  sphere  of  circulation 
and  without  it.  These  are  the  conditions  of  the  problem. 
Hie  Rhodus,  hie  salta! 



The  change  of  value  that  occurs  in  the  case  of  money  intended 
to  be  converted  into  capital,  cannot  take  place  in  the  money 
itself,  since  in  its  function  of  means  of  purchase  and  of  pay- 
ment, it  does  no  more  than  realise  the  price  of  the  commodity 
it  buys  or  pays  for;  and,  as  hard  cash,  it  is  value  petrified, 
never  varying.1  Just  as  little  can  it  originate  in  the  second 
act  of  circulation,  the  re-sale  of  the  commodity,  which  does 
no  more  than  transform  the  article  from  its  bodily  form  back 
again  into  its  money-form.  The  change  must,  therefore,  take 
place  in  the  commodity  bought  by  the  first  act,  M — C,  but  not 
in  its  value,  for  equivalents  are  exchanged,  and  the  commodity 
is  paid  for  at  its  fulr  value.     We  are,  therefore,  forced  to  the 

•11,  reduce  the  former  to  the  latter,  in  other  words  treat  the  difference  as  accidental 
in  order  that  the  phenomena  may  be  observed  in  their  purity,  and  our  observations 
not  interfered  with  by  disturbing  circumstances  that  have  nothing  to  do  with  the 
process  in  question.  We  know,  moreover,  that  this  reduction  is  no  mere  scientific 
process.  The  continual  oscillation  in  prices,  their  rising  and  falling,  compensate  each 
other,  and  reduce  themselves  to  an  average  price,  which  is  their  hidden  regulator.  It 
forms  the  guiding  star  of  the  merchant  or  the  manufacturer  in  every  undertaking 
that  requires  time.  He  knows  that  when  a  long  period  of  time  is  taken,  commodities 
are  sold  neither  over  nor  under,  but  at  their  average  price.  If  therefore  he  thought 
about  the  matter  at  all,  he  would  formulate  the  problem  of  the  formation  of  capital 
as  follows:  How  can  we  account  for  the  origin  of  capital  on  the  supposition  that 
prices  are  regulated  by  the  average  price,  i.e.,  ultimately  by  the  value  of  the  com- 
modities? I  say  "ultimately,"  because  average  prices  do  not  directly  coincide  with 
the  values  of  commodities,  as  Adam  Smith,  Ricardo,  and  others  believe. 

1  "In  the  form  of  money.     .     .  capital  is  productive  of  no  profit."      (Ricardo: 

"Princ.  of  Pol.  Econ."  p.  267.) 

1 86  Capitalist  Production. 

conclusion  that  the  change  originates  in  the  use-value,  a&,  such, 
of  the  commodity,  i.e.,  in  its  consumption.  In  order  to  he  able 
to  extract  value  from  the  consumption  of  a  commodity,  our 
friend,  Moneybags,  must  be  so  lucky  as  to  find,  within  the 
sphere  of  circulation,  in  the  market,  a  commodity,  whose  use- 
value  possesses  the  peculiar  property  of  being  a  source  of 
value,  whose  actual  consumption,  therefore,  is  itself  an  em- 
bodiment of  labour,  and,  consequently,  a  creation  of  value. 
The  possessor  of  money  does  find  on  the  market  such  a  special 
commodity  in  capacity  for  labour  or  labour-power. 

By  labour-power  or  capacity  for  labour  is  to  be  understood 
the  aggregate  of  those  mental  and  physical  capabilities  exist- 
ing in  a  human  being,  which  he  exercises  whenever  he  produces 
a  use-value  of  any  description. 

But  in  order  that  our  owner  of  money  may  be  able  to  find 
labour-power  offered  for  sale  as  a  commodity,  various  condi- 
tions must  first  be  fulfilled.  The  exchange  of  commodities  of 
itself  implies  no  other  relations  of  dependence  than  those  which 
result  from  its  own  nature.  On  this  assumption,  labour-power 
can  appear  upon  the  market  as  a  commodity  only  if,  and  so 
far  as,  its  possessor,  the  individual  whose  labour-power  it  is, 
offers  it  for  sale,  or  sells  it,  as  a  commodity.  In  order  that  he 
may  be  able  to  do  this,  he  must  have  it  at  his  disposal,  must 
be  the  untrammelled  owner  of  his  capacity  for  labour,  i.e.,  of 
his  person.1  He  and  the  owner  of  money  meet  in  the  market, 
and  deal  with  each  other  as  on  the  basis  of  equal  rights,  with 
this  difference  alone,  that  one  is  buyer,  the  other  seller ;  both, 
therefore,  equal  in  the  eyes  of  the  law.  The  continuance  of 
this  relation  demands  that  the  owner  of  the  labour-power 
should  sell  it  only  for  a  definite  period,  for  if  he  were  to  sell  it 
rump  and  stump,  once  for  all,  he  would  be  selling  himself, 
converting  himself  from  a  free  man  into  a  slave,  from  an 
owner  of  a  commodity  into  a  commodity.  He  must  constantly 
look  upon  his  labour-power  as  his  own  property,  his  own  com- 
modity, and  this  he  can  only  do  by  placing  it  at  the  disposal  of 

1  In  encyclopaedias  of  classical  antiquities  we  find  such  nonsense  as  this — that  in 
the  ancient  world  capital  was  fully  developed,  "except  that  the  free  labourer  and  a 
system  of  credit  was  wanting."  Mommsen  also,  in  his  "History  of  Rome,"  commits, 
in  this  respect,   one  blunder  after  another. 

The  Buying  and  Selling  of  Labour-Power.         187 

the  buyer  temporarily,  for  a  definite  period  of  time.  By  this 
means  alone  can  lie  avoid  renouncing  his  rights  of  ownership 
over  it1 

The  second  essential  condition  to  the  owner  of  money  find- 
ing labour-power  in  the  market  as  a  commodity  is  this — that 
the  labourer  instead  of  being  in  the  position  to  sell  com- 
modities in  which  his  labour  is  incorporated,  must  be  obliged 
to  offer  for  sale  as  a  commodity  that  very  labour-power,  which 
exists  only  in  his  living  self. 

In  order  that  a  man  may  be  able  to  sell  commodities  other 
than  labour-power,  he  must  of  course  have  the  means  of 
production,  as  raw  material,  implements,  &c.  No  boots  can 
be  made  without  leather.  He  requires  also  the  means  of  sub- 
sistence. Nobody — not  even  "a  musician  of  the  future" 
can  live  upon  future  products,  or  upon  use-values  in  an  un- 
finished state ;  and  ever  since  the  first  moment  of  his  appear- 
ance on  the  world's  stage,  man  always  has  been,  and  must  still 
be  a  consumer,  both  before  and  while  he  is  producing.  In  a 
society  where  all  products  assume  the  form  of  commodities, 
these  commodities  must  be  sold  after  they  have  been  produced ; 
it  is  only  after  their  sale  that  they  can  serve  in  satisfying  the 
requirements  of  their  producer.  The  time  necessary  for  their 
sale  is  superadded  to  that  necessary  for  their  production. 

For  the  conversion  of  his  money  into  capital,  therefore,  the 
owner  of  money  must  meet  in  the  market  with  the  free 
labourer,  free  in  the  double  sense,  that  as  a  free  man  he  can 

1  Hence  legislation  in  various  countries  fixes  a  maximum  for  labour-contracts. 
Wherever  free  labour  is  the  rule,  the  laws  regulate  the  mode  of  terminating  this  con- 
tract. In  some  States,  particularly  in  Mexico  (before  the  American  Civil  War,  also 
in  the  territories  taken  from  Mexico,  and  also  as  a  matter  of  fact,  in  the  Danubian 
provinces  till  the  revolution  affected  by  Kusa),  slavery  is  hidden  under  the  form  of 
peonage.  By  means  of  advances,  repayable  in  labour,  which  are  handed  down 
from  generation  to  generation,  not  only  the  individual  labourer,  but  his  family, 
become,  de  facto,  the  property  of  other  persons  and  their  families.  Juarez  abolished 
peonage.  The  so-called  Emperor  Maximilian  re-established  it  by  a  decree,  which,  in 
the  House  of  Representatives  at  Washington,  was  aptly  denounced  as  a  decree  for 
the  re-introduction  of  slavery  into  Mexico.  "I  may  make  over  to  another  the  use, 
for  a  limited  time,  of  my  particular  bodily  and  mental  aptitudes  and  capabilities; 
because,  in  consequence  of  this  restriction,  they  are  impressed  with  a  character  of 
alienation  with  regard  to  me  as  a  whole.  But  by  the  alienation  of  all  my  labour- 
time  and  the  whole  of  my  work,  I  should  be  converting  the  substance  itself,  in  other 
words,  my  general  activity  and  reality,  my  person,  into  the  property  of  another." 
(Hegel,  "Philosophie  des  Rechts."     Berlin,  1840,  p.  104  §  67.) 

1 88  Capitalist  Production. 

dispose  of  his  labour-power  as  his  own  commodity,  and  that  on 
the  other  hand  he  has  no  other  commodity  for  sale,  is  short 
of  everything  necessary  for  the  realisation  of  his  labour- 

The  question  why  this  free  labourer  confronts  him  in  the 
market,  has  no  interest  for  the  owner  of  money,  who  regards 
the  labour  market  as  a  branch  of  the  general  market  for  com- 
modities. And  for  the  present  it  interests  us  just  as  little. 
We  cling  to  the  fact  theoretically,  as  he  does  practically.  One 
thing,  however,  is  clear — nature  does  not  produce  on  the  one 
side  owners  of  money  or  commodities,  and  on  the  other  men 
possessing  nothing  but  their  own  labour-power.  This  relation 
has  no  natural  basis,  neither  is  its  socal  basis  one  that  is 
common  to  all  historical  periods.  It  is  \leariy  th  result  of  a 
past  historial  development,  the  product  of  many  economical 
revolutions,  of  the  extinction  of  a  whole  series  of  older  forms 
of  social  production. 

So,  too,  the  economical  categories,  already  iscussed  by  us> 
bear  the  stamp  of  history.  Definite  historical  conditions  are 
necessary  that  a  product  may  become  a  commodity.  It  must 
not  be  produced  as  the  immediate  means  of  subsi  vtence  of  the 
producer  himself.  Had  we  gone  further,  and  inquired  under 
what  circumstances  all,  or  even  the  majority  of  produ  '  take 
the  form  of  commodities,  we  should  have  found  that  this  <  .n 
only  happen  with  production  of  a  very  specific  kind,  capitalist 
production.  Such  an  inquiry,  however,  would  have  been 
foreign  to  the  analysis  of  commodities.  Production  and  cir- 
culation of  commodities  can  take  place,  although  the  great 
mass  of  t*he  objects  produced  are  intended  for  the  immediate 
requirements  of  their  producers,  are  not  turned  into  commodi- 
ties, and  consequently  social  production  is  not  yet  by  a  long 
way  dominated  in  its  length  and  breadth  by  exchange-value, 
the  appearance  of  products  as  commodities  presupposed  such  a 
development  of  the  social  division  of  labour,  that  the  separation 
of  use-value  from  exchange-value,  a  separation  which  first 
begins  with  barter,  must  already  have  been  completed.  But 
such  a  degree  of  development  is  common  to  many  forms  of 
society,    which    in   other   respects   present   the   most  varying 

The  Buying  and  Selling  of  Labour-Power.        189 

historical  features.  On  the  other  hand,  if  we  consider  money, 
its  existence  implies  a  definite  stage  in  the  exchange  of  com- 
modities. The  particular  functions  of  money  which  it  per- 
forms, either  as  the  mere  equivalent  of  commodities,  or  as 
means  of  circulation,  or  means  of  payment,  as  hoard  or  as 
universal  money,  point,  according  to  the  extent  and  relative 
preponderance  of  the  one  function  or  the  other,  to  very  differ- 
ent stages  in  the  process  of  social  production.  Yet  we  know 
by  experience  that  a  circulation  of  commodities  relatively 
primitive,  suffices  for  the  production  of  all  these  forms. 
Otherwise  with  capital.  The  historical  conditions  of  its  ex- 
istence are  by  no  means  given  with  the  mere  circulation  of 
money  and  commodities.  It  can  spring  into  life,  only  when 
the  owner  of  the  means  of  production  and  subsistence  meets  in 
the  market  with  the  free  labourer  selling  his  labour-power. 
And  this  one  historical  condition  comprises  a  world's  history. 
Capital  therefore,  announces  from  its  first  appearance  a  new 
epoch  in  the  process  of  social  production.1 

We  must  now  examine  more  closely  this  peculiar  commodity, 
labour-power.  Like  all  others  it  has  a  value.2  How  is  that 
value  determined  ? 

The  value  of  labour-power  is  determined,  as  in  the  case  of 
every  other  commodity,  by  the  labour-time  necessary  for  the 
production,  and  consequently  also  the  reproduction,  of  this 
special  article.  So  far  as  it  has  value,  it  represents  no  more 
than  a  definite  quantity  of  the  average  labour  of  society 
incorporated  in  it.  Labour-power  exists  only  as  a  capacity,  or 
power  of  the  living  individual.  Its  production  consequently 
presupposes  his  existence.  Given  the  individual,  the  produc- 
tion of  labour-power  consists  in  his  reproduction  of  himself  or 
his  maintenance.  For  his  maintenance  he  requires  a  given 
quantity  of  the  means  of  subsistence.  Therefore  the  labour- 
time  requisite  for  the  production  of  labour-power  reduces  itself 

1  The  capitalist  epoch  is  therefore  characterised  by  this,  that  labour-power  takes 
in  the  eyes  of  the  labourer  himself  the  form  of  a  commodity  which  is  his  property; 
his  labour  consequently  becomes  wage  labour.  On  the  other  hand,  it  is  only  from 
this   moment   that   the   produce   of   labour   universally    becomes   a   commodity. 

2  "The  value  or  worth  of  a  man,  is  as  of  all  other  things  his  price — that  is  to  say, 
so  much  as  would  be  given  for  the  use  of  his  power."  (Th.  Hobbes:  "Leviathan" 
in  Works,  Ed.  Molesworth.     Lond.   1839-44,  v.  iii.,  p.  76.) 

190  Capitalist  Production. 

to  that  necessary  for  the  production  of  those  means  of  sub- 
sistence ;  in  other  words,  the  value  of  labour-power  is  the 
value  of  the  means  of  subsistence  necessary  for  the  mainte- 
nance of  the  labourer.  Labour-power,  however,  becomes  a 
reality  only  by  its  exercise;  it  sets  itself  in  action  only  by 
working.  But  thereby  a  definite  quantity  of  human  muscle, 
nerve,  brain,  &c,  is  wasted,  and  these  require  to  be  restored. 
This  increased  expenditure  demands  a  larger  income.1  If  the 
owner  of  labour-power  works  to-day,  to-morrow  he  must  again 
be  able  to  repeat  the  same  process  in  the  same  conditions  as 
regards  health  and  strength.  His  means  of  subsistence  must 
therefore  be  sufficient  to  maintain  him  in  his  normal  state  as 
a  labouring  individual.  His  natural  wants,  such  as  food, 
clothing,  fuel,  and  housing,  vary  according  to  the  climatic  and 
other  physical  conditions  of  his  country.  On  the  other  hand, 
the  number  and  extent  of  his  so-called  necessary  wants,  as  also 
the  modes  of  satisfying  them,  are  themselves  the  product  of 
historical  development,  and  depend  therefore  to  a  great  extent 
on  the  degree  of  civilisation  of  a  country,  more  particularly 
on  the  conditions  under  which,  and  consequently  on  the  habits 
and  degree  of  comfort  in  which,  the  class  of  free  labourers  has 
been  formed.2  In  contradistinction  therefore  to  the  case  of 
other  commodities,  there  enters  into  the  determination  of  the 
value  of  labour-power  a  historical  and  moral  element.  Never- 
theless, in  a  given  country,  at  a  given  period,  the  average 
quantity  of  the  means  of  subsistence  necessary  for  the  labourer 
is  practically  known. 

The  owner  of  labour-power  is  mortal.  If  then  his  appear- 
ance in  the  market  is  to  be  continuous,  and  the  continuous  con- 
version of  money  into  capital  assumes  this,  the  seller  of  labour- 
power  must  perpetuate  himself,  "in  the  way  that  every  living 
individual  perpetuates  himself,  by  procreation."3  The  labour- 
power  withdrawn  from  the  market  by  wear  and  tear  and 
death,  must  be  continually  replaced  by,  at  the  very  least,  an 

1  Hence  the  Roman  Villicus,  as  overlooker  of  the  agricultural  slaves,  received 
"more  meagre  fare  than  working  slaves,  because  his  work  was  lighter."  (Th. 
Mommsen,  Rom.  Geschichte,  1856,  p.  810.) 

2  Compare  W.  H.  Thornton:  "Overpopulation  and  its  Remedy,"   Lond.,  1846. 
8  Petty. 

The  Buying  and  Selling  of  Labour-Power.         191 

equal  amount  of  fresh  labour-power.  Hence  the  sum  of  the 
means  of  subsistence  necessary  for  the  production  of  labour- 
power  must  include  the  means  necessary  for  the  labourer's 
substitutes,  i.e.,  his  children,  in  order  that  this  race  of  peculiar 
commodity-owners  may  perpetuate  its  appearance  in  the 

In  order  to  modify  the  human  organism,  so  that  it  may  ac- 
quire skill  and  handiness  in  a  given  branch  of  industry,  and 
become  labour-power  of  a  special  kind,  a  special  education  or 
training  is  requisite,  and  this,  on  its  part,  costs  an  equivalent 
in  commodities  of  a  greater  or  less  amount.  This  amount 
varies  according  to  the  more  or  less  complicated  character  of 
the  labour-power.  The  expenses  of  this  education  (excessive- 
ly small  in  the  case  of  ordinary  labour-power),  enter  pro  tanto 
into  the  total  value  spent  in  its  production. 

The  value  of  labour-power  resolves  itself  into  the  value  of  a 
definite  quantity  of  the  means  of  subsistence.  It  therefore 
varies  with  the  value  of  these  means  or  with  the  quantity  of 
labour  requisite  for  their  production. 

Some  of  the  means  of  subsistence,,  such  as  food  and  fuel,  are 
consumed  daily,  and  a  fresh  supply  must  be  provided  daily. 
Others  such  as  clothes  and  furniture  last  for  longer  periods 
and  require  to  be  replaced  only  at  longer  intervals.  One 
article  must  be  bought  or  paid  for  daily,  another  weekly, 
another  quarterly,  and  so  on.  But  in  whatever  way  the  sum 
total  of  these  outlays  may  be  spread  over  the  year,  they  must 
be  covered  by  the  average  income,  taking  one  day  with  an- 
other. If  the  total  of  the  commodities  required  daily  for  the 
production  of  labour-power = A,  and  those  required  weekly 
=B,  and  those  required  quarterly =C,  and  so  on,  the  daily 
average  of  these  commodities = 365A+52^+4C+&c.  Suppose  that  in 
this  mass  of  commodities  requisite  for  the  average  day  there 
are  embodied  6  hours  of  social  labour,  then  there  is  incor- 

1  Its  (labour's)  natural  price.  .  .  .  consists  in  such  a  quantity  of  necessaries 
and  comforts  of  life,  as,  from  the  nature  of  the  climate,  and  the  habits  of  the  coun- 
try, are  necessary  to  support  the  labourer,  and  to  enable  him  to  rear  such  a  family 
as  may  preserve,  in  the  market,  an  undiminished  supply  of  labour."  (R.  Torrens: 
"An  Essay  on  the  external  Corn  Trade."  Lond.,  1815,  p.  62.)  The  word  labour  is 
here  used  incorrectly  for  labour-power. 

192  Capitalist  Production. 

porated  daily  in  labour-power  half  a  day's  average  social 
labour,  in  other  words,  half  a  day's  labour  is  requisite  for  the 
daily  production  of  labour-power.  This  quantity  of  labour 
forms  the  value  of  a  day's  labour-power  or  the  value  of  the 
labour-power  daily  reproduced.  If  half  a  day's  average  social 
labour  is  incorporated  in  three  shillings,  then  three  shillings 
is  the  price  corresponding  to  the  value  of  a  day's  labour-power. 
If  its  owner  therefore  offers  it  for  sale  at  three  shillings  a 
day,  its  selling  price  is  equal  to  its  value,  and  according  to  our 
supposition,  our  friend  Moneybags,  who  is  intent  upon  con- 
verting his  three  shillings  into  capital,  pays  this  value. 

The  minimum  limit  of  the  value  of  labour-power  is  deter- 
mined by  the  value  of  the  commodities,  without  the  daily 
supply  of  which  the  labourer  cannot  renew  his  vital  energy, 
consequently  by  the  value  of  those  means  of  subsistence  that 
are  physically  indispensable.  If  the  price  of  labour-power 
fall  to  this  minimum,  it  falls  below  its  value,  since  under  such 
circumstances  it  can  be  maintained  and  developed  only  in  a 
crippled  state.  But  the  value  of  every  commodity  is  deter- 
mined by  the  labour-time  requisite  to  turn  it  out  so  as  to  be  of 
normal  quality. 

It  is  a  very  cheap  sort  of  sentimentality  which  declares  this 
method  of  determining  the  value  of  labour-power,  a  method 
prescribed  by  the  very  nature  of  the  case,  to  be  a  brutal 
method,  and  which  wails  with  Rossi  that,  "To  comprehend 
capacity  for  labour  (puissance  de  travail)  at  the  same  time 
that  we  make  abstraction  from  the  means  of  subsistence  of  the 
labourers  during  the  process  of  production,  is  to  comprehend  a 
phantom  (etre  de  raison).  When  we  speak  of  labour,  or 
capacity  for  labour,  we  speak  at  the  same  time  of  the  labourer 
and  his  means  of  subsistence,  of  labourer  and  wages."1  When 
we  speak  of  capacity  for  labour,  we  do  not  speak  of  labour,  any 
more  than  when  we  speak  of  capacity  for  digestion,  we  speak 
of  digestion.  The  latter  process  requires  something  more  than 
a  good  stomach.  When  we  speak  of  capacity  for  labour  we  do 
not  abstract  from  the  necessary  means  of  subsistence.  On  the 
contrary,  their  value  is  expressed  in  its  value.     If  his  capacity 

1  Rossi.     "Cours  d'Econ.    Polit:  "Bruxelles,  1842,  p.  370. 

The  Buying  and  Selling  of  Labour-Power.         193 

for  labour  remains  unsold,  the  labourer  derives  no  benedt  from 
it,  but  rather  he  will  feel  it  to  be  a  cruel  nature-imposed 
necessity  that  this  capacity  has  cost  for  its  production  a  de- 
finite amount  of  the  means  of  subsistence  and  that  it  will  con- 
tinue to  do  so  for  its  reproduction.  He  will  then  agree  with 
Sismondi :  "that  capacity  for  labour.  ...  is  nothing  unless  it 
is  sold."1 

One  consequence  of  the  peculiar  nature  of  labour-power  as 
a  commodity  is,  that  its  use-value  does  not,  on  the  conclusion 
of  this  contract  between  the  buyer  and  seller,  immediately  pass 
into  the  hands  of  the  former.  Its  value,  like  that  of  every 
other  commodity,  is  already  fixed  before  it  goes  into  circula- 
tion, since  a  definite  quantity  of  social  labour  has  been  spent 
upon  it ;  but  its  use-value  consists  in  the  subsequent  exercise  of 
its  force.  The  alienation  of  labour-power  and  its  actual  ap- 
propriation by  the  buyer,  its  employment  as  a  use-value,  are 
separated  by  an  interval  of  time.  But  in  those  cases  in  which 
the  formal  alienation  by  sale  of  the  use-value  of  a  commodity, 
is  not  simultaneous  with  its  actual  delivery  to  the  buyer,  the 
money  of  the  latter  usually  functions  as  means  of  payment.2 
In  every  country  in  which  the  capitalist  mode  of  production 
reigns,  it  is  the  custom  not  to  pay  for  labour-power  before  it 
has  been  exercised  for  the  period  fixed  by  the  contract,  as  for 
example,  the  end  of  each  week.  In  all  cases,  therefore,  the 
use-value  of  the  labour-power  is  advanced  to  the  capitalist :  the 
labourer  allows  the  buyer  to  consume  it  before  he  receives  pay- 
ment of  the  price ;  he  everywhere  gives  credit  to  the  capitalist. 
That  this  credit  is  no  mere  fiction,  is  shown  not  only  by  the 
occasional  loss  of  wages  on  the  bankruptcy  of  the  capitalist,3 
but  also  by  a  series  of  more  enduring  consequences.4     Never- 

1  Sismondi:  "Nouv.  Princ.  etc.,"  t.  I.  p.  112. 

2  All  labour  is  paid  after  it  has  ceased."  ("An  inquiry  into  those  Principles  re- 
specting the  nature  of  Demand,"  &c,  p.  104.)  "Le  credit  commercial  a  dii  com- 
mencer  au  moment  oil  l'ouvrier,  premier  artisan  de  la  production,  a  pu,  au  moyen  de 
ses  economies,  attendre  le  salaire  de  son  travail  jusqu,  a  la  fin  de  la  semaine,  de  la 
quinzaine,  du  mois,  du  trimestre,  &c.  (Ch.  Ganilh:  "Des  Systemes  de  l'Econ.  Polit." 
2eme.  edit.   Paris,   1821,  t.    I.  p.   150.). 

3  "L'ouvrier  prete  son  Industrie,"  but  adds  Storch  slyly:  he  "risks  nothing" 
except  "de  perdre  son  salaire  ....  L'ouvrier  ne  transmet  rien  de  materiel." 
(Storch:   "Cours  d'Econ.  Polit.  Econ."     Petersbourg,  1815,  t.   II.,  p.  37.) 

4  One  example.     In  London  there  are  two  sorts  of  bakers,  the  "full  priced,"  who 


194  Capitalist  Production. 

theless,  whether  money  serves  as  a  means  of  purchase  or  as  a 
means  of  payment,  this  makes  no  alteration  in  the  nature  of 
the  exchange  of  commodities.  The  price  of  the  labour-power 
is  fixed  by  the  contract,  although  it  is  not  realised  till  later, 
like  the  rent  of  a  house.  The  labour-power  is  sold,  although 
it  is  only  paid  for  at  a  later  period.  It  will,  therefore,  be 
useful,  for  a  clear  comprehension  of  the  relation  of  the  parties, 
to  assume  provisionally,  that  the  possessor  of  labour-power,  on 
the  occasion  of  each  sale,  immediately  receives  the  price 
stipulated  to  be  paid  for  it. 

We  now  know  how  the  value  paid  by  the  purchaser  to  the 

sell  bread  at  its  full  value,  and  the  "undersellers,"  who  sell  it  under  its  value.  The 
latter  class  comprises  more  than  three-fourths  of  the  total  number  of  bakers,  (p. 
xxxii  in  the  Report  of  H.  S.  Tremenheere,  commissioner  to  examine  into  "the  griev- 
ances complained  of  by  the  journeymen  bakers,"  &c,  Lond.  1862.)  The  undersellers, 
almost  without  exception,  sell  bread  adulterated  with  alum,  soap,  pearl  ashes,  chalk, 
Derbyshire  stone-dust,  and  such  like  agreeable  nourishing  and  wholesome  ingredi- 
ents. (See  the  above  cited  blue  book,  as  also  the  report  of  "the  committee  of 
1855  on  the  adulteration  of  bread,"  and  Dr.  Hassall's  "Adulterations  detected," 
2d  Ed.  Lond.  1862.)  Sir  John  Gordon  stated  before  the  committee  of  1855,  that  "in 
consequence  of  these  adulterations,  the  poor  man,  who  lives  on  two  pounds  of 
bread  a  day,  does  not  now  get  one  fourth  part  of  nourishing  matter,  let  alone  the 
deleterious  effects  on  his  health."  Tremenheere  states  (1.  c.  p.  xlviii),  as  the  rea- 
son, why  a  very  large  part  of  the  working  class,  although  well  aware  of  this  adul- 
teration, nevertheless  accept  the  alum,  stone-dust,  &c,  as  part  of  their  purchase: 
that  it  is  for  them  "a  matter  of  necessity  to  take  from  their  baker  or  from  the 
chandler's  shop,  such  bread  as  they  choose  to  supply."  As  they  are  not  paid  their 
wages  before  the  end  of  the  week,  they  in  their  turn  are  unable  "to  pay  for  the 
bread  consumed  by  their  families,  during  the  week,  before  the  end  of  the  week," 
and  Tremenheere  adds  on  the  evidence  of  witnesses,  "it  is  notorious  that  bread  com- 
posed of  those  mixtures,  is  made  expressly  for  sale  in  this  manner."  In  many 
English  and  still  more  Scotch  agricultural  districts,  wages  are  paid  fortnightly  and 
even  monthly;  with  such  long  intervals  between  the  payments,  the  agricultural  la- 
bourer is  obliged  to  buy  on  credit.  .  .  .  He  must  pay  higher  prices,  and  is  in 
fact  tied  to  the  shop  which  gives  him  credit.  Thus  at  Horningham  in  Wilts,  for  ex- 
ample, where  the  wages  are  monthly,  the  same  flour  that  he  could  buy  elsewhere 
at  Is  lOd  per  stone,  costs  him  2s  4d  per  atone.  ("Sixth  Report"  on  "Public  Health" 
by  "The  Medical  Officer  of  the  Privy  Council,  &c,  1864."  p.  264.)  "The  block 
printers  of  Paisley  and  Kilmarnock  enforced,  by  a  strike,  fortnightly,  instead  of 
monthly  payment  of  wages."  (Reports  of  the  Inspectors  of  Factories  for  31st 
Oct.,  1853,"  p.  34.)  As  a  further  pretty  result  of  the  credit  given  by  the 
workmen  to  the  capitalist,  we  may  refer  to  the  method  current  in  many  English 
coal  mines,  where  the  labourer  is  not  paid  till  the  end  of  the  month,  and  in 
the  meantime,  receives  sums  on  account  from  the  capitalist,  often  in  goods  for 
which  the  miner  is  obliged  to  pay  more  than  the  market  price  (Truck-system). 
"It  is  a  common  practice  with  the  coal  masters  to  pay  once  a  month,  and  advance 
cash  to  their  workmen  at  the  end  of  each  intermediate  week.  The  cash  is  given 
in  the  shop"  (i.  e.,  the  Tommy  shop  which  belongs  to  the  master) ;  "the  men  take 
it  on  one  side  and  lay  it  out  on  the  other."  (Children's  Employment  Commis- 
sion, III,  Report,  London,  1864,  p.  38,  n.  192.) 

The  Buying  and  Selling  of  Labour-Power.         195 

possessor  of  this  peculiar  commodity,  labour-power,  is  de- 
termined. The  use-value  which  the  former  gets  in  exchange, 
manifests  itself  only  in  the  actual  usufruct,  in  the  consump- 
tion of  the  labour-power.  The  money  owner  buys  every- 
thing necessary  for  this  purpose,  such  as  raw  material,  in  the 
market,  and  pays  for  it  at  its  full  value.  The  consumption 
of  labour-power  is  at  one  and  the  same  time  the  production  of 
commodities  and  of  surplus  value.  The  consumption  of 
labour-power  is  completed,  as  in  the  case  of  every  other  com- 
modity, outside  the  limits  of  the  market  or  of  the  sphere  of 
circulation.  Accompanied  by  Mr.  Moneybags  and  by  the 
possessor  of  labour-power,  we  therefore  take  leave  for  a  time 
of  this  noisy  sphere,  where  everything  takes  place  on  the  sur- 
face and  in  view  of  all  men,  and  follow  them  both  into  the 
hidden  abode  of  production,  on  whose  threshold  there  stares 
us  in  the  face  "ISTo  admittance  except  on  business."  Here  we 
shall  see,  not  only  how  capital  produces,  but  how  capital  is 
produced.  We  shall  at  last  force  the  secret  of  profit  making. 
This  sphere  that  we  are  deserting,  within  whose  boundaries, 
the  sale  and  purchase  of  labour-power  goes  on,  is  in  fact  a  very 
Eden  of  the  innate  rights  of  man.  There  alone  rule  Freedom, 
Equality,  Property  and  Bentham.  Freedom,  because  both 
buyer  and  seller  of  a  commodity,  say  of  labour-power,  are 
constrained  only  by  their  own  free  will.  They  contract  as 
free  agents,  and  the  agreement  they  come  to,  is  but  the  form 
in  which  they  give  legal  expression  to  their  common  will. 
Equality,  because  each  enters  into  relation  with  the  other,  as 
with  a  simple  owner  of  commodities,  and  they  exchange 
equivalent  for  equivalent.  Property,  because  each  disposes 
only  of  what  is  his  own.  And  Bentham,  because  each  looks 
only  to  himself.  The  only  force  that  brings  them  together  and 
puts  them  in  relation  with  each  other,  is  the  selfishness,  the 
gain  and  the  private  interests  of  each.  Each  looks  to  himself 
only,  and  no  one  troubles  himself  about  the  rest,  and  just  be- 
cause they  do  so,  do  they  all,  in  accordance  with  the  pre- 
established  harmony  of  things,  or  under  the  auspices  of  an 
all-shrewd  providence,  work  together  to  their  mutual  advan- 
tage, for  the  common  weal  and  in  the  interest  of  all. 

196  Capitalist  Production. 

On  leaving  this  sphere  of  simple  circulation  or  of  exchange 
of  commodities,  which  furnishes  the  "Free-trader  Vulgaris" 
with  his  views  and  ideas,  and  with  the  standard  by  which  he 
judges  a  society  based  on  capital  and  wages,  we  think  we  can 
perceive  a  change  in  the  physiognomy  of  our  dramatis  personse. 
He,  who  before  was  the  money  owner,  now  strides,  in  front  as 
capitalist ;  the  possessor  of  labour-power  follows  as  his  labourer. 
The  one  with  an  air  of  importance,  smirking,  intent  on  busi- 
ness ;  the  other,  timid  and  holding  back,  like  one  who  is  bring- 
ing his  own  hide  to  market  and  has  nothing  to  expect  but — 
a  hiding. 

part  m. 






The  capitalist  buys  labour-power  in  order  to  use  it;  and 
labour-power  in  use  is  lab  itself.  Tbe  purchaser  of  labour- 
power  consumes  ;t  by  setting  the  seller  of  it  to  work.  By 
working,  the  latter  becomes  ictually,  what  before  he  only  was 
potentially,  labour-power  in  action,  a  labourer.  In  order  that 
his  labour  may  reappear  in  a  commodity,  he  must,  before  all 
things,  expend  it  on  something  useful,  on  something  capable 
of  satisfying  a  want  of  some  sort.  Hence,  what  the  capitalist 
sets  the  labourer  to  produce,  is  a  particular  use-value,  a 
specified  article.  The  fact  that  the  production  of  use-values, 
or  goods,  is  carried  on  under  the  control  of  a  capitalist  and 
on  his  behalf,  does  not  alter  the  general  character  of  that 
production.  We  shall,  therefore,  in  the  first  place,  have  to 
consider  the  labour-process  independently  of  the  particular 
form  it  assumes  under  given  social  conditions. 

Labour  is,  in  the  first  place,  a  process  in  which  both  man 
and  Nature  participate,  and  in  which  man  of  his  own  accord 
starts,  regulates,  and  controls  the  material  re-actions  between 
himself  and  Nature.     He  opposes  himself  to  Nature  as  one  of 


198  Capitalist  Production. 

her  own  forces,  setting  in  motion  arms  and  legs,  head  and 
hands,  the  natural  forces  of  his  body,  in  order  to  appropriate 
Nature's  productions  in  a  form  adapted  to  his  own  wants.  By 
thus  acting  on  the  external  world  and  changing  it,  he  at  the 
same  time  changes  his  own  nature.  He  develops  his  slumber- 
ing powers  and  compels  them  to  act  in  obedience  to  his  sway. 
We  are  not  now  dealing  with  those  primitive  instinctive  forms 
of  labour  that  remind  us  of  the  mere  animal.  An  immeasur- 
able interval  of  time  separates  the  state  of  things  in  which  a 
man  brings  his  labour-power  to  market  for  sale  as  a  commodity, 
from  that  state  in  which  human  labour  was  still  in  its  first  in- 
stinctive stage.  We  presuppose  labour  in  a  form  that  stamps 
it  as  exclusively  human.  A  spider  conducts  operations  that 
resemble  those  of  a  weaver,  and  a  bee  puts  to  shame  many  an 
architect  in  the  construction  of  her  cells.  But  what  distin- 
guishes the  worst  architect  from  the  best  of  bees  is  this,  that 
the  architect  raises  his  structure  in  imagination  before  he  erects 
it  in  reality.  At  the  end  of  every  labour-process,  we  get  a  re- 
sult that  already  existed  in  the  imagination  of  the  labourer  at 
its  commencement.  He  not  only  effects  a  change  of  form  in 
the  material  on  which  he  works,  but  he  also  realises  a  purpose 
of  his  own  that  gives  the  law  to  his  modus  operandi,  and  to 
which  he  must  subordinate  his  will.  And  this  subordination 
is  no  mere  momentary  act.  Besides  the  exertion  of  the  bodily 
organs,  the  process  demands  that,  during  the  whole  operation, 
the  workman's  will  be  steadily  in  consonance  with  his  purpose. 
This  means  close  attention.  The  less  he  is  attracted  by  the 
nature  of  the  work,  and  the  mode  in  which  it  is  carried  on, 
and  the  less,  therefore,  he  enjoys  it  as  something  which  gives 
play  to  his  bodily  and  mental  powers,  the  more  close  his  at- 
tention is  forced  to  be. 

The  elementary  factors  of  the  labour-process  are  1,  the  per- 
sonal activity  of  man,  i.e.,  work  itself2  2,  the  subject  of  that 
work,  and  3,  its  instruments. 

The  soil  (and  this,  economically  speaking,  includes  water) 
in  the  virgin  state  in  which  it  supplies1  man  with  necessaries 

1  "The   earth's  spontaneous   productions  being   in   small   quantity,   and   quite    inde- 
pendent of  man,  appear,  as  it  were,  to  be  furnished  by  Nature,  in  the  same  way  as  a 

The  Labour  Process.  199 

or  the  means  of  subsistence  ready  to  hand,  exists  independently 
of  him,  and  is  the  universal  subject  of  human  labour.  All 
those  things  which  labour  merely  separates  from  immediate 
connection  with  their  environment,  are  subjects  of  labour 
spontaneously  provided  by  Nature.  Such  are  fish  which  we 
catch  and  take  from  their  element,  water,  timber  which  we 
fell  in  the  virgin  forest,  and  ores  which  we  extract  from  their 
veins.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  the  subject  of  labour  has,  so  to 
say,  been  filtered  through  previous  labour,  we  call  it  raw 
material;  such  is  ore  already  extracted  and  ready  for  wash- 
ing. All  raw  material  is  the  subject  of  labour,  but  not  every 
subject  of  labour  is  raw  material ;  it  can  only  become  so.  after 
it  has  undergone  some  alteration  by  means  of  labour. 

An  instrument  of  labour  is  a  thing,  or  a  complex  of  things, 
which  the  labourer  interposes  between  himself  and  the  subject 
of  his  labour,  and  which  serves  as  the  conductor  of  his  activity. 
He  makes  use  of  the  mechanical,  physical,  and  chemical  pro- 
perties of  some  substances  in  order  to  make  other  substances 
subservient  to  his  aims.1  Leaving  out  of  consideration  such 
ready-made  means  of  subsistence  as  fruits,  in  gathering  which 
a  man's  own  limbs  serve  as  the  instruments  of  his  labour,  the 
first  thing  of  which  the  labourer  possesses  himself  is  not  the 
subject  of  labour  but  its  instrument.  Thus  Nature  becomes 
one  of  the  organs  of  his  activity,  one  that  he  annexes  to  his 
own  bodily  organs,  adding  stature  to  himself  in  spite  of  the 
Bible.  As  the  earth  is  his  original  larder,  so  too  it  is  his 
original  tool  house.  It  supplies  him,  for  instance,  with  stones 
for  throwing,  grinding,  pressing,  cutting,  &c.  The  earth  itself 
is  an  instrument  of  labour,  but  when  used  as  such  in  agri- 
culture implies  a  whole  series  of  other  instruments  and  a  com- 
paratively  high    development    of    labour.2     ISTo    sooner    does 

small  sum  is  given  to  a  young  man,  in  order  to  put  him  in  a  way  of  industry,  and 
of  making  his  fortune."  (James  Steuart:  "Principles  of  Polit.  Econ."  edit.  Dub- 
lin,  1770,    v.    I.   p.   116.) 

1  "Reason  is  just  as  cunning  as  she  is  powerful.  Her  cunning  consists  principally 
in  her  mediating  activity,  which,  by  causing  objects  to  act  and  re-act  on  each  other 
in  accordance  with  their  own  nature,  in  this  way,  without  any  direct  interference 
in  the  process,  carries  out  reason's  intentions."  (Hegel:  "Encyklopadie,  Erster 
Theil.    Die    Logik."     Berlin,    1840,    p.    382.) 

-  In  his  otherwise  miserable  work  ("Theorie  de  l'Econ.  Polit."  Paris,  1819), 
Ganilh.   enumerates    in    a    striking    manner    in    opposition    to    the    "Physiocrats"    the 

200  Capitalist  Production. 

labour  undergo  the  least  development,  than  it  requires  specially 
prepared  instruments.  Thus  in  the  oldest  caves  we  find  stone 
implements  and  weapons.  In  the  earliest  period  of  human 
history  domesticated  animals,  i.e.,  animals  which  have  been 
bred  for  the  purpose,  and  have  undergone  modifications  by 
means  of  labour,  play  the  chief  part  as  instruments  of  labour 
along  with  specially  prepared  stones,  wood,  bones,  and  shells.1 
The  use  and  fabrication  of  instruments  of  labour,  although 
existing  in  the  germ  among  certain  species  of  animals,  is 
specifically  characteristic  of  the  human  labour-process,  and 
Franklin  therefore  defines  man  as  a  tool-making  animal. 
Relics  of  by-gone  instruments  of  labour  possess  the  same  im- 
portance for  the  investigation  of  extinct  economical  forms  of 
society,  as  do  fossil  bones  for  the  determination  of  extinct 
species  of  animals.  It  is  not  the  articles  made,  but  how  they 
are  made,  and  by  what  instruments,  that  enables  us  to  dis- 
tinguish different  economical  epochs.2  Instruments  of  labour 
not  only  supply  a  standard  of  the  degree  of  development  to 
which  human  labour  has  attained,  but  they  are  also  indicators 
of  the  social  conditions  under  which  that  labour  is  carried  on. 
Among  the  instruments  of  labour,  those  of  a  mechanical  nature, 
which,  taken  as  a  whole,  we  may  call  the  bone  and  muscles  of 
production,  offer  much  more  decided  characteristics  of  a  given 
epoch  of  production,  than  those  which,  like  pipes,  tubs,  baskets, 
jars,  &c,  serve  only  to  hold  the  materials  for  labour,  which 
latter  class,  we  may  in  a  general  way,  call  the  vascular  system 
of  production.  The  latter  first  begins  to  play  an  important 
part  in  the  chemical  industries. 

In  a  wider  sense  we  may  include  among  the  instruments  of 

long  series  of  previous  processes  necessary  before  agriculture  properly  so  called 
can  commence. 

1  Turgot  in  his  "Reflexions  sur  la  Formation  et  la  Distribution  des  Richesses" 
(1766)  brings  well  into  prominence  the  importance  of  domesticated  animals  toi 
early   civilisation. 

2  The  least  important  commodities  of  all  for  the  technological  comparison  of 
different  epochs  of  production  are  articles  of  luxury,  in  the  strict  meaning  of  the 
term.  However  little  our  written  histories  up  to  this  time  notice  the  development  of 
material  production,  which  is  the  basis  of  all  social  life,  and  therefore  of  all  real 
history,  yet  prehistoric  times  have  been  classified  in  accordance  with  the  results 
not  of  so  called  historical,  but  of  materialistic  investigations.  These  periods  hav« 
been  divided,  to  correspond  with  the  materials  from  which  their  implements  and 
weapons  are  made,  viz.,  into  the  stone,  the  bronze,  and  the  iron  ages. 

The  Labour  Process.  201 

labour,  in  addition  to  those  things  that  are  used  for  directly 
transferring  labour  to  its  subject,  and  which  therefore,  in  one 
way  or  another,  serve  as  conductors  of  activity,  all  such  objects 
as  are  necessary  for  carrying  on  the  labour-process.  These  do 
not  enter  directly  into  the  process,  but  without  them  it  is  either 
impossible  for  it  to  take  place  at  all,  or  possible  only  to  a 
partial  extent.  Once  more  we  find  the  earth  to  be  a  universal 
instrument  of  this  sort,  for  it  furnishes  a  locus  standi  to  the 
labourer  and  a  field  of  employment  for  his  activity.  Among 
instruments  that  are  the  result  of  previous  labour  and  also 
belong  to  this  class,  we  find  workshops,  canals,  roads,  and  so 

In  the  labour-process,  therefore,  man's  activity,  with  the  help 
of  the  instruments  of  labour,  effects  an  alteration,  designed 
from  the  commencement,  in  the  material  worked  upon.  The 
process  disappears  in  the  product ;  the  latter  is  a  use-value, 
Nature's  material  adapted  by  a  change  of  form  to  the  wants  of 
man.  Labour  has  incorporated  itself  with  its  subject:  the  for- 
mer is  materialised,  the  latter  transformed.  That  which  in 
the  labourer  appeared  as  movement,  now  appears  in  the  prod- 
uct as  a  fixed  quality  without  motion.  The  blacksmith  forges 
and  the  product  is  a  forging. 

If  we  examine  the  whole  process  from  the  point  of  view  of 
its  result,  the  product,  it  is  plain  that  both  the  instruments  and 
the  subject  of  labour,  are  means  of  production,1  and  that  the 
labour  itself  is  productive  labour.2 

Though  a  use-value,  in  the  form  of  a  product,  issues  from 
the  labour-process,  yet  other  use-values,  products  of  previous 
labour,  enter  into  it  as  means  of  production.  The  same  use- 
value  is  both  the  product  of  a  previous  process,  and  a  means  of 
production  in  a  later  process.  Products  are  therefore  not  only 
results,  but  also  essential  conditions  of  labour. 

With  the  exception  of  the  extractive  industries,  in  which 

1  It  appears  paradoxical  to  assert,  that  uncaught  fish,  for  instance,  are  a  means  of 
production  in  the  fishing  industry.  But  hitherto  no  one  has  discovered  the  art  of 
catching  fish  in  waters  that  contain  none. 

2  This  method  of  determining  from  the  standpoint  of  the  labour-process  alone, 
what  is  productive  labour,  is  by  no  means  directly  applicable  to  the  case  of  the 
capitalist  process  of  production. 

202  Capitalist  Productioyi. 

the  material  for  labour  is  provided  immediately  by  nature, 
such  as  mining,  hunting,  fishing,  and  agriculture  (so  far  as  the 
latter  is  confined  to  breaking  up  virgin  soil),  all  branches  of 
industry  manipulate  raw  material,  objects  already  filtered 
through  labour,  already  products  of  labour.  Such  is  seed  in 
agriculture.  Animals  and  plants,  which  we  are  accustomed  to 
consider  as  products  of  nature,  are  in  their  present  form,  not 
only  products  of,  say  last  year's  labour,  but  the  result  of  a 
gradual  transformation,  continued  through  many  generations, 
under  man's  superintendence,  and  by  means  of  his  labour. 
But  in  the  great  majority  of  cases,  instruments  of  labour  show 
even  to  the  most  superficial  observer,  traces  of  the  labour  of 
past  ages. 

Raw  material  may  either  form  the  principal  substance  of  a 
product,  or  it  may  enter  into  its  formation  only  as  an  acces- 
sory. An  accessory  may  be  consumed  by  the  instruments  of 
labour,  as  coal  under  a  boiler,  oil  by  a  wheel,  hay  by  draft- 
horses,  or  it  may  be  mixed  with  the  raw  material  in  order  to 
produce  some  modification  thereof,  as  chlorine  into  unbleached 
linen,  coal  with  iron,  dye-stuff  with  wool,  or  again,  it  may  help 
to  carry  on  the  work  itself,  as  in  the  case  of  the  materials  used 
for  heating  and  lighting  workshops.  The  distinction  between 
principal  substance  and  accessory  vanishes  in  the  true  chemical 
industries,  because  there  none  of  the  raw  material  reappears,  in 
its  original  composition,  in  the  substance  of  the  product.1 

Every  object  possesses  various  properties,  and  is  thus  capable 
of  being  applied  to  different  uses.  One  and  the  same  product 
may  therefore  serve  as  raw  material  in  very  different  processes. 
Corn,  for  example,  is  a  raw  material  for  millers,  starch-manu- 
facturers, distillers,  and  cattle-breeders.  It  also  enters  as  raw 
material  into  its  own  production  in  the  shape  of  seed :  coal,  too, 
is  at  the  same  time  the  product  of,  and  a  means  of  production 
in,  coal-mining. 

Again,  a  particular  product  may  be  used  in  one  and  the  same 
process,  both  as  an  instrument  of  labour  and  as  raw  material. 
Take,  for  instance,  the  fattening  of  cattle,  where  the  animal  is 

1  Storch  calls  true  raw  materials  "matieres,"  and  accessory  material   "materiaux:" 
Cherbuliez  describes   accessories  as   "Tiatiere.s   \nstrumentales." 

The  Labour  Process.  203 

the  raw  material,  and  at  the  same  time  an  instrument  for  the 
production  of  manure. 

A  product,  though  ready  for  immediate  consumption,  may 
yet  serve  as  raw  material  for  a  further  product,  as  grapes  when 
they  become  the  raw  material  for  wine.  On  the  other  hand, 
labour  may  give  us  its  product  in  such  a  form,  that  we  can  use 
it  only  as  raw  material,  as  is  the  case  with  cotton,  thread,  and 
yarn.  Such  a  raw  material,  though  itself  a  product,  may  have 
to  go  through  a  whole  series  of  different  processes:  in  each  of 
these  in  turn,  it  serves,  with  constantly  varying  form,  as  raw 
material,  until  the  last  process  of  the  series  leaves  it  a  perfect 
product,  ready  for  individual  consumption,  or  for  use  as  an 
instrument  of  labour. 

Hence  we  see,  that  whether  a  use-value  is  to  be  regarded  as 
raw  material,  as  instrument  of  labour,  or  as  product,  this  is  de- 
termined entirely  by  its  function  in  the  labour  process,  by  the 
position  it  there  occupies :  as  this  varies,  so  does  its  character. 

Whenever  therefore  a  product  enters  as  a  means  of  produc- 
tion into  a  new  labour-process,  it  thereby  loses  its  character  of 
product,  and  becomes  a  mere  factor  in  the  process.  A  spinner 
treats  spindles  only  as  implements  for  spinning,  and  flax  only 
as  the  material  that  he  spins.  Of  course  it  is  impossible  to 
spin  without  material  and  spindles  ;  and  therefore  the  existence 
of  these  things  as  products,  at  the  commencement  of  the  spin- 
ning operation,  must  be  presumed  :  but  in  the  process  itself,  the 
fact  that  they  are  products  of  previous  labour,  is  a  matter  of 
utter  indifference ;  just  as  in  the  digestive  process,  it  is  of  no 
importance  whatever,  that  bread  is  the  produce  of  the  previous 
labour  of  the  farmer,  the  miller,  and  the  baker.  On  the  con- 
trary, it  is  generally  by  their  imperfections  as  products,  that 
the  means  of  production  in  any  process  assert  themselves  in 
their  character  as  products.  A  blunt  knife  or  weak  thread 
forcibly  remind  us  of  Mr.  A.,  the  cutler,  or  Mr.  B.,  the  spinner. 
In  the  finished  product  the  labour  by  means  of  which  it  has 
acquired  its  useful  qualities  is  not  palpable,  has  apparently 

A  machine  which  does  not  serve  the  purposes  of  labour,  is 
useless.     In  addition,  it  falls  a  prey  to  the  destructive  influence 

204  Capitalist  Production. 

of  natural  forces.  Iron  rusts  and  wood  rots.  Yarn  with  whicli 
we  neither  weave  nor  knit,  is  cotton  wasted.  Living  labour 
must  seize  upon  these  things  and  rouse  them  from  their  death- 
sleep,  change  them  from  mere  possible  use-values  into  real  and 
effective  ones.  Bathed  in  the  fire  of  labour,  appropriated  as 
part  and  parcel  of  labour's  organism,  and,  as  it  were,  made 
alive  for  the  performance  of  their  functions  in  the  process,  they 
are  in  truth  consumed,  but  consumed  with  a  purpose,  as  ele- 
mentary constituents  of  new  use-values,  of  new  products,  ever 
ready  as  means  of  subsistence  for  individual  consumption,  or 
as  means  of  production  for  some  new  labour-process. 

If  then,  on  the  one  hand,  finished  products  are  not  only 
results,  but  also  necessary  conditions,  of  the  labour-process,  on 
the  other  hand,  their  assumption  into  that  process,  their  con- 
tact with  living  labour,  is  the  sole  means  by  which  they  can  be 
made  to  retain  their  character  of  use-values,  and  be  utilised. 

Labour  uses  up  its  material  factors,  its  subject  and  its  in- 
struments, consumes  them,  and  is  therefore  a  process  of  con- 
sumption. Such  productive  consumption  is  distinguished 
from  individual  consumption  by  this,  that  the  latter  uses  up 
products,  as  means  of  subsistence  for  the  living  individual ;  the 
former,  as  means  whereby  alone,  labour,  the  labour-power  of 
the  living  individual,  is  enabled  to  act.  The  product,  there- 
fore, of  individual  consumption,  is  the  consumer  himself;  the 
result  of  productive  consumption,  is  a  product  distinct  from 
the  consumer. 

In  so  far  then,  as  its  instruments  and  subjects  are  themselves 
products,  labour  consumes  products  in  order  to  create  products, 
or  in  other  words,  consumes  one  set  of  products  by  turning 
them  into  means  of  production  for  another  set.  But,  just  as 
in  the  beginning,  the  only  participators  in  the  labour-process 
were  man  and  the  earth,  which  latter  exists  independently  of 
man,  so  even  now  we  still  employ  in  the  process  many  means 
of  production,  provided  directly  by  nature,  that  do  not  repre- 
sent any  combination  of  natural  substances  with  human  labour. 

The  labour  process,  resolved  as  above  into  its  simple  ele- 
mentary factors,  is  human  action  with  a  view  to  the  produc- 
tion of  use-values,  appropriation  of  natural  substances  to  hu- 

The  Labour  Process.  205 

man  requirements;  it  is  the  necessary  condition  for  effecting 
exchange  of  matter  between  man  and  Nature ;  it  is  the  ever- 
lasting nature-imposed  condition  of  human  existence,  and 
therefore  is  independent  of  every  social  phase  of  that  existence, 
or  rather,  is  common  to  every  such  phase.  It  was,  therefore, 
not  necessary  to  represent  our  labourer  in  connexion  with  other 
labourers ;  man  a  1  his  labour  on  one  side,  Nature  and  its 
materials  on  the  other,  sufficed.  As  the  taste  of  the  porridge 
does  not  tell  you  who  grew  the  oats,  no  more  does  this  simple 
process  tell  you  of  itself  what  are  the  social  conditions  under 
which  it  is  taking  place,  whether  under  the  slave-owner's  brutal 
lash,  or  the  anxious  eye  of  the  capitalist,  whether  Cincinnatus 
carries  it  on  in  tilling  his  modest  farm  or  a  savage  in  killing 
wild  animals  with  stones.1 

Let  us  now  return  to  our  would-be  capitalist.  We  left  him 
just  after  he  had  purchased,  in  the  open  market,  all  the  neces- 
sary factors  of  the  labour-process ;  its  objective  factors,  the 
means  of  production,  as  well  as  its  subjective  factor,  labour- 
power.  With  the  keen  eye  of  an  expert,  he  had  selected  the 
means  of  production  and  the  kind  of  labour-power  best  adapted 
to  his  particular  trade,  be  it  spinning,  bootmaking,  or  any  other 
kind.  He  then  proceeds  to  consume  the  commodity,  the  la- 
bour-power that  he  has  just  bought,  by  causing  the  labourer, 
the  impersonation  of  that  labour-power,  to  consume  the  means 
of  production  by  his  labour.  The  general  character  of  the 
labour-process  is  evidently  not  changed  by  the  fact,  that  the 
labourer  works  for  the  capitalist  instead  of  for  himself ;  more- 
over, the  particular  methods  and  operations  employed  in  boot- 
making  or  spinning  are  not  immediately  changed  by  the  inter- 
vention of  the  capitalist.  He  must  begin  by  taking  the  labour- 
power  as  he  finds  it  in  the  market,  and  consequently  be  satis- 
fied with  labour  of  such  a  kind  as  would  be  found  in  the  period 
immediately  preceding  the  rise  of  the  capitalists.     Changes  in 

1By  a  wonderful  feat  of  logical  acumen,  Colonel  Torrens  has  discovered  in  this 
stone  of  the  savage  the  origin  of  capital.  "In  the  first  stone  which  he  [the 
savage]  flings  at  the  wild  animal  he  pursues,  in  the  stick  that  he  seizes  to  strike 
down  the  fruit  which  hangs  above  his  reach,  we  see  the  appropriation  of  one 
article  for  the  purpose  of  aiding  in  the  acquisition  of  another,  and  thus  discover  the 
origin  of  capital.  (R.  Torrens:  "An  Essay  on  the  Production  of  Wealth,"  &c, 
pp.    70-71.) 

206  Capitalist  Production. 

the  methods  of  production  by  the  subordination  of  labour  to 
capital,  can  take  place  only  at  a  later  period,  and  therefore  will 
have  to  be  treated  of  in  a  later  chapter. 

The  labour-process,  turned  into  the  process  by  which  the 
capitalist  consumes  labour-power,  exhibits  two  characteristic 
phenomena.  First,  the  labourer  works  under  the  control  of 
the  capitalist  to  whom  his  labour  belongs ;  the  capitalist  taking 
good  care  that  the  work  is  done  in  a  proper  manner,  and  that 
the  means  of  production  are  used  with  intelligence,  so  that 
there  is  no  unnecessary  waste  of  raw  material,  and  no  wear  and 
tear  of  the  implements  beyond  what  is  necessarily  caused  by 
the  work. 

Secondly,  the  product  is  the  property  of  the  capitalist  and 
not  that  of  the  labourer,  its  immediate  producer.  Suppose 
that  a  caj)italist  pays  for  a  day's  labour-power  at  its  value ; 
then  the  right  to  use  that  power  for  a  day  belongs  to  him,  just 
as  much  as  the  right  to  use  any  other  commodity,  such  as  a 
horse  that  he  has  hired  for  the  day.  To  the  purchaser  of  a 
commodity  belongs  its  use,  and  the  seller  of  labour-power,  by 
giving  his  labour,  does  no  more,  in  reality,  than  part  with  the 
use-value  that  he  has  sold.  From  the  instant  he  steps  into 
the  workshop,  the  use-value  of  his  labour-power,  and  therefore 
also  its  use,  which  is  labour,  belongs  to  the  capitalist.  By  the 
purchase  of  labour-power,  the  capitalist  incorporates  labour,  as 
a  living  ferment,  with  the  lifeless  constituents  of  the  product. 
From  his  point  of  view,  the  labour-process  is  nothing  more 
than  the  consumption  of  the  commodity  purchased,  i.e.,  of 
labour-power ;  but  this  consumption  cannot  be  effected  except 
by  supplying  the  labour-power  with  the  means  of  production. 
The  labour-process  is  a  process  between  things  that  the  capi- 
talist has  purchased,  things  that  have  become  his  property. 
The  product  of  this  process  also  belongs,  therefore,  to  him,  just 
as  much  as  does  the  wine  which  is  the  product  of  a  process  of 
fermentation  completed  in  his  cellar.1 

1  "Products  are  appropriated  before  they  are  converted  into  capital;  this  conver- 
sion does  not  secure  them  from  such  appropriation."  (Cherbuliez:  "Riche  ou 
Pauvre,"  edit.  Paris,  1841,  pp.  53,  54.)  "The  Proletarian,  by  selling  his  labour  for 
a  definite  quantity  of  the  necessaries  of  life,  renounces  all  claim  to  a  share  in 
the    product.     The    mode    of    appropriation    of    the    products    remains    the    same    as 

The  Labour  Process.  207 


The  product  appropriated  by  the  capitalist  is  a  use-value,  as 
yarn,  for  example,  or  boots.  But,  although  boots  are,  in  one 
sense,  the  basis  of  all  social  progress,  and  our  capitalist  is  a 
decided  "progressist,"  yet  he  does  not  manufacture  boots  for 
their  own  sake.  Use-value  is,  by  no  means,  the  thing  "qu'on 
aime  pour  lui-meme"  in  the  production  of  commodities.  Use- 
values  are  only  produced  by  capitalists,  because,  and  in  so  far 
as,  they  are  the  material  substratum,  the  depositaries  of  ex- 
change-value. Our  capitalist  has  two  objects  in  view :  in  the 
first  place,  he  wants  to  produce  a  use-value  that  has  a  value 
in  exchange,  that  is  to  say,  an  article  destined  to  be  sold,  a 
commodity ;  and  secondly,  he  desires  to  produce  a  commodity 
whose  value  shall  be  greater  than  the  sum  of  the  values  of  the 
commodities  used  in  its  production,  that  is,  of  the  means  of 
production  and  the  labour-power,  that  he  purchased  with  his 
good  money  in  the  open  market.  His  aim  is  to  produce  not 
only  a  use-value,  but  a  commodity  also ;  not  only  use-value, 
but  value ;  not  only  value,  but  at  the  same  time  surplus- 

It  must  be  borne  in  mind?  that  we  are  now  dealing  with  the 
production  of  commodities,  and  that,  up  to  this  point,  we  have 
only  considered  one  aspect  of  the  process.  Just  as  commodities 
are,  at  the  same  time,  use-values  and  values,  so  the  process  of 
producing  them  must  be  a  labour-process,  and  at  the  same 
time,  a  process  of  creating  value.1 

before;  it  is  no  way  altered  by  the  bargain  we  have  mentioned.  The  product  be- 
longs exclusively  to  the  capitalist,  who  supplied  the  raw  material  and  the  neces- 
saries of  life;  and  this  is  a  rigorous  consequence  of  the  law  of  appropriation,  a  law 
whose  fundamental  principle  was  the  very  opposite,  namely,  that  every  labourer  has 
an  exclusive  right  to  the  ownership  of  what  he  produces."  (1.  c.  p.  58.)  "When 
the  labourers  receive  wages  for  their  labour  ....  the  capitalist  is  then  the 
owner  not  of  the  capital  only"  (he  means  the  means  of  production)  "but  of  the 
labour  also.  If  what  is  paid  as  wages  is  included,  as  it  commonly  is,  in  the 
term  capital,  it  is  absurd  to  talk  of  labour  separately  from  capital.  The  word 
capital  as  thus  employed  includes  labour  and  capital  both."  (James  Mill:  "Ele- 
ments of  Pol.   Econ.,"  &c,   Ed.  1821,  pp.   70,  71.) 

1  As  has  been  stated  in  a  previous  note,  the  English  language  has  two  different 
expressions  for  these  two  different  aspects  of  labour;  in  the  Simple  Labour-process, 
the  process  of  producing  Use- Values,  it  is  Work;  in  the  process  of  creation  of 
Value,    it   is    Labour,    taking    the    term    in    its    strictly    economical    sense. — Ed. 

208  Capitalist  Production. 

Let  us  now  examine  production  as  a  creation  of  value. 

We  know  that  the  value  of  each  commodity  is  determined 
by  the  quantity  of  labour  expended  on  and  materialised  in  it, 
by  the  working-time  necessary,  under  given  social  conditions, 
for  its  production.  This  rule  also  holds  good  in  the  case  of 
the  product  that  accrued  to  our  capitalist,  as  the  result  of  the 
labour-process  carried  on  for  him.  Assuming  this  product  to 
be  10  lbs.  of  yarn,  our  first  step  is  to  calculate  the  quantity  of 
labour  realised  in  it. 

For  spinning  the  yarn,  raw  material  is  required ;  suppose  in 
this  case  10  lbs.  of  cotton.  We  have  no  need  at  present  to 
investigate  the  value  of  this  cotton,  for  our  capitalist  has,  we 
will  assume,  bought  it  at  its  full  value,  say  of  ten  shillings. 
In  this  price  the  labour  required  for  the  production  of  the 
cotton  is  already  expressed  in  terms  of  the  average  labour  of 
society.  We  will  further  assume  that  the  wear  and  tear  of  the 
spindle,  which,  for  our  present  purpose,  may  represent  all  other 
instruments  of  labour  employed,  amounts  to  the  value  of  2s. 
If,  then,  twenty-four  hours'  labour,  or  two  working  days,  are 
required  to  produce  the  quantity  of  gold  represented  by  twelve 
shillings,  we  have  here,  to  begin  with,  two  days'  labour  already 
incorporated  in  the  yarn. 

We  must  not  let  ourselves  be  misled  by  the  circumstance 
that  the  cotton  has  taken  a  new  shape  while  the  substance  of 
the  spindle  has  to  a  certain  extent  been  used  up.  By  the 
general  law  of  value,  if  the  value  of  40  lbs.  of  yarn=the  value 
of  40  lbs.  of  cotton-|-the  value  of  a  whole  spindle,  i.e.,  if  the 
same  working  time  is  required  to  produce  the  commodities  on 
either  side  of  this  equation,  then  10  lbs.  of  yarn  are  an  equiva- 
lent for  10  lbs.  of  cotton,  together  with  one-fourth  of  a  spindle. 
In  the  case  we  are  considering  the  same  working  time  is  ma- 
terialised in  the  10  lbs.  of  yarn  on  the  one  hand,  and  in  the  10 
lbs.  of  cotton  and  the  fraction  of  a  spindle  on  the  other. 
Therefore,  whether  value  appears  in  cotton,  in  a  spindle,  or 
in  yarn,  makes  no  difference  in  the  amount  of  that  value. 
The  spindle  and  cotton,  instead  of  resting  quietly  side  by  side, 
join  together  in  the  process,  their  forms  are  altered,  and  they 
are  turned  into  yarn ;  but  their  value  is  no  more  affected  by 

The  Labour  Process.  209 

this  fact  than  it  would  be  if  they  had  been  simply  exchanged 
for  their  equivalent  in  yarn. 

The  labour  required  for  the  production  of  the  cotton,  the 
raw  material  of  the  yarn,  is  part  of  the  labour  necessary  to 
produce  the  yarn,  and  is  therefore  contained  in  the  yarn.  The 
same  applies  to  the  labour  embodied  in  the  spindle,  without 
whose  wear  and  tear  the  cotton  could  not  be  spun. 

Hence,  in  determining  the  value  of  the  yarn,  or  the  labour- 
time  required  for  its  production,  all  the  special  processes  car- 
ried on  at  various  times  and  in  different  places,  which  were 
necessary,  first  to  produce  the  cotton  and  the  wasted  portion  of 
the  spindle,  and  then  with  the  cotton  and  spindle  to  spin  the 
yarn,  may  together  be  looked  on  as  different  and  successive 
phases  of  one  and  the  same  process.  The  whole  of  the  labour 
in  the  yarn  is  past  labour ;  and  it  is  a  matter  of  no  importance 
that  the  operations  necessary  for  the  production  of  its  con- 
stituent elements  were  carried  on  at  times  which,  referred  to 
the  present,  are  more  remote  than  the  final  operation  of  spin- 
ning. If  a  definite  quantity  of  labour,  say  thirty  days,  is 
requisite  to  build  a  house,  the  total  amount  of  labour  incor- 
porated in  it  is  not  altered  by  the  fact  that  the  work  of  the 
last  day  is  done  twenty-nine  days  later  than  that  of  the  first. 
Therefore  the  labour  contained  in  the  raw  material  and  the 
instruments  of  labour  can  be  treated  just  as  if  it  were  labour 
expended  in  an  earlier  stage  of  the  spinning  process,  before  the 
labour  of  actual  spinning  commenced. 

The  values  of  the  means  of  production,  i.e.,  the  cotton  and 
the  spindle,  which  values  are  expressed  in  the  price  of  twelve 
shillings,  are  therefore  constituent  parts  of  the  value  of  the 
yarn,  or,  in  other  words,  of  the  value  of  the  product. 

Two  conditions  must  nevertheless  be  fulfilled.  First,  the 
cotton  and  spindle  must  concur  in  the  production  of  a  use- 
value;  they  must  in  the  present  case  become  yarn.  Value  is 
independent  of  the  particular  use-value  by  which  it  is  borne, 
but  it  must  be  embodied  in  a  use-value  of  some  kind.  Sec- 
ondly, the  time  occupied  in  the  labor  of  production  must  not 
exceed  the  time  really  necessary  under  the  given  social  con- 
ditions of  the  case.     Therefore,  if  no  more  than  1  lb.  of  cotton 


210  Capitalist  Production. 

be  requisite  to  spin  1  lb.  of  yarn,  care  must  be  taken  that  no 
more  than  this  weight  of  cotton  is  consumed  in  the  production 
of  1  lb.  of  yarn;  and  similarly  with  regard  to  the  spindle. 
Though  the  capitalist  have  a  hobby,  and  use  a  gold  instead  of  a 
steel  spindle,  yet  the  only  labour  that  counts  for  anything  in 
the  value  of  the  yarn  is  that  which  would  be  required  to  pro- 
duce a  steel  spindle,  because  no  more  is  necessary  under  the 
given  social  conditions. 

We  now  know  what  portion  of  the  value  of  the  yarn  is  owing 
to  the  cotton  and  the  spindle.  It  amounts  to  twelve  shillings 
or  the  value  of  two  days'  work.  The  next  point  for  our  con- 
sideration is,  what  portion  of  the  value  of  the  yarn  is  added 
to  the  cotton  by  the  labour  of  the  spinner. 

We  have  now  to  consider  this  labour  under  a  very  different 
aspect  from  that  which  it  had  during  the  labour-process  ;  there, 
we  viewed  it  solely  as  that  particular  kind  of  human  activity 
which  changes  cotton  into  yarn ;  there,  the  more  the  labour 
was  suited  to  the  work,  the  better  the  yarn,  other  circumstances 
remaining  the  same.  The  labour  of  the  spinner  was  then 
viewed  as  specifically  different  from  other  kinds  of  productive 
labour,  different  on  the  one  hand  in  its  special  aim,  viz.,  spin- 
ning, different,  on  the  other  hand,  in  the  special  character  of  its 
operations,  in  the  special  nature  of  its  means  of  production  and 
in  the  special  use-value  of -its  product.  For  the  operation  of 
spinning,  cotton  and  spindles  are  a  necessity,  but  for  making 
rifled  cannon  they  would  be  of  no  use  whatever.  Here,  on  the 
contrary,  where  we  consider  the  labour  of  the  spinner  only  so 
far  as  it  is  value-creating,  i.e.,  a  source  of  value,  his  labour  dif- 
fers in  no  respect  from  the  labour  of  the  man  who  bores  cannon, 
or  (what  here  more  nearly  concerns  us),  from  the  labour  of  the 
cotton-planter  and  spindle-maker  incorporated  in  the  means  of 
production.  It  is  solely  by  reason  of  this  identity,  that  cotton 
planting,  spindle  making  and  spinning,  are  capable  of  forming 
the  component  parts,  differing  only  quantitatively  from  each 
other,  of  one  whole,  namely,  the  value  of  the  yarn.  Here,  we 
have  nothing  more  to  do  with  the  quality,  the  nature  and  the 
specific  character  of  the  labour,  but  merely  with  its  quantity. 
And  this  simply  requires  to  be  calculated.     We  proceed  upon 

The  Labour  Process.  211 

the  assumption  that  spinning  is  simple,  unskilled  labour,  the 
average  labour  of  a  given  state  of  society.  Hereafter  we  shall 
see  that  the  contrary  assumption  would  make  no  difference. 

While  the  labourer  is  at  work,  his  labour  constantly  under- 
goes a  transformation  :  from  being  motion,  it  becomes  an  object 
without  motion ;  from  being  the  labourer  working,  it  becomes 
the  thing  produced.  At  the  end  of  one  hour's  spinning,  that 
act  is  represented  by  a  definite  quantity  of  yarn ;  in  other 
words,  a  definite  quantity  of  labour,  namely  that  of  one  hour, 
has  become  embodied  in  the  cotton.  We  say  labour,  i.e.,  the 
expenditure  of  his  vital  force  by  the  spinner,  and  not  spinning 
labour,  because  the  special  work  of  spinning  counts  here,  only 
so  far  as  it  is  the  expenditure  of  labour-power  in  general,  and 
not  in  so  far  as  it  is  the  specific  work  of  the  spinner. 

In  the  process  we  are  now  considering  it  is  of  extreme  im- 
portance, that  no  more  time  be  consumed  in  the  work  of  trans- 
forming the  cotton  into  yarn  than  is  necessary  under  the  given 
social  conditions.  If  under  normal,  i.e.,  average  social  condi- 
tions of  production,  a  pounds  of  cotton  ought  to  be  made  into 
b  pounds  of  yarn  by  one  hour's  labour,  then  a  day's  labour 
does  not  count  as  12  hours'  labour  unless  12  a  pounds  of  cotton 
have  been  made  into  12  b  pounds  of  yarn ;  for  in  the  creation 
of  value,  the  time  that  is  socially  necessary  alone  counts. 

Xot  only  the  labour,  but  also  the  raw  material  and  the  pro- 
duct now  appear  in  quite  a  new  light,  very  different  from  that 
in  which  we  viewed  them  in  the  labour-process  pure  and  sim- 
ple. The  raw  material  serves  now  merely  as  an  absorbent  of 
a  definite  quantity  of  labour.  By  this  absorption  it  is  in  fact 
changed  into  yarn,  because  it  is  spun,  because  labour-power 
in  the  form  of  spinning  is  added  to  it;  but  the  product,  the 
yarn,  is  now  nothing  more  than  a  measure  of  the  labour  ab- 
sorbed by  the  cotton.  If  in  one  hour  If  lbs.  of  cotton  can  be 
spun  into  If  lbs.  of  yarn,  then  10  lbs.  of  yarn  indicate  the 
absorption  of  6  hours'  labour.  Definite  quantities  of  product, 
these  quantities  being  determined  by  experience,  now  represent 
nothing  but  definite  quantities  of  labour,  definite  masses  of 
crystallized  labour-time.     They   are  nothing  more  than  the 

212  Capitalist  Production. 

materialisation  of  so  many  hours  or  so  many  days  of  social 

We  are  here  no  more  concerned  about  the  facts,  that  the 
labour  is  the  specific  work  of  spinning,  that  its  subject  is  cotton 
and  its  product  yarn,  than  we  are  about  the  fact  that  the  sub- 
ject itself  is  already  a  product  and  therefore  raw  material. 
If  the  spinner,  instead  of  spinning,  were  working  in  a  coal 
mine,  the  subject  of  his  labour,  the  coal,  would  be  supplied  by 
Nature ;  nevertheless,  a  definite  quantity  of  extracted  coal,  a 
hundred  weight,  for  example,  would  represent  a  definite  quan- 
tity of  absorbed  labour. 

We  assumed,  on  the  occasion  of  its  sale,  that  the  value  of 
a  day's  labour-power  is  three  shillings,  and  that  six  hours'  la- 
bour are  incorporated  in  that  sum ;  and  consequently  that  this 
amount  of  labour  is  requisite  to  produce  the  necessaries  of  life 
daily  required  on  an  average  by  the  labourer.  If  now  our 
spinner  by  working  for  one  hour,  can  convert  If  lbs.  of  cotton 
into  If  lbs.  of  yarn,1  it  follows  that  in  six  hours  he  will  convert 
10  lbs.  of  cotton  into  10  lbs.  of  yarn.  Hence,  during  the  spin- 
ning process,  the  cotton  absorbs  six  hours'  labour.  The  same 
quantity  of  labour  is  also  embodied  in  a  piece  of  gold  of  the 
value  of  three  shillings.  Consequently  by  the  mere  labour  of 
spinning,  a  value  of  three  shillings  is  added  to  the  cotton. 

Let  us  now  consider  the  total  value  of  the  product,  the  10 
lbs.  of  yarn.  Two  and  a  half  days'  labour  have  been  embodied 
in  it,  of  which  two  days  were  contained  in  the  cotton  and  in 
the  substance  of  the  spindle  worn  away,  and  half  a  day  was 
absorbed  during  the  process  of  spinning.  This  two  and  a  half 
days'  labour  is  also  represented  by  a  piece  of  gold  of  the  value 
of  fifteen  shillings.  Hence,  fifteen  shillings  is  an  adequate 
price  for  the  10  lbs.  of  yarn,  or  the  price  of  one  pound  is  eight- 

Our  capitalist  stares  in  astonishment.  The  value  of  the 
product  is  exactly  equal  to  the  value  of  the  capital  advanced. 
The  value  so  advanced  has  not  expanded,  no  surplus-value  has 
been  created,  and  consequently  money  has  not  been  converted 
into  capital.     The  price  of  the  yarn  is  fifteen  shillings,  and 

*  These    figures    are    quite    arbitrary. 

The  Labour  Process.  21$ 

fifteen  shillings  were  spent  in  the  open  market  upon  the  con- 
stituent elements  of  the  product,  or,  what  amounts  to  the  same 
thing,  upon  the  factors  of  the  labour-process ;  ten  shillings  were 
paid  for  the  cotton,  two  shillings  for  the  substance  of  the  spin- 
dle worn  away,  and  three  shillings  for  the  labour-power.  The 
swollen  value  of  the  yarn  is  of  no  avail,  for  it  is  merely  the 
sum  of  the  values  formerly  existing  in  the  cotton,  the  spindle, 
and  the  labour-power ;  out  of  such  a  simple  addition  of  existing 
values,  no  surplus-value  can  possibly  arise.1  These  separate 
values  are  now  all  concentrated  in  one  thing ;  but  so  they  were 
also  in  the  sum  of  fifteen  shillings,  before  it  was  split  up  into 
three  parts,  by  the  purchase  of  the  commodities. 

There  is  in  reality  nothing  very  strange  in  this  result.  The 
value  of  one  pound  of  yarn  being  eighteenpence,  if  our  capita- 
list buys  10  lbs.  of  yarn  in  the  market,  he  must  pay  fifteen 
shillings  for  them.  It  is  clear  that,  whether  a  man  buys  his 
house  ready  built,  or  gets  it  built  for  him,  in  neither  case  will 
the  mode  of  acquisition  increase  the  amount  of  money  laid  out 
on  the  house. 

Our  capitalist,  who  is  at  home  in  his  vulgar  economy,  ex- 
claims :  "Oh !  but  I  advanced  my  money  for  the  express  pur- 
pose of  making  more  money."  The  way  to  Hell  is  paved  with 
good  intentions,  and  he  might  just  as  easily  have  intended  to 
make  money,  without  producing  at  all.2  He  threatens  all  sorts 
of  things.  He  won't  be  caught  napping  again.  In  future  he 
will  buy  the  commodities  in  the  market,  instead  of  manufac- 
turing them  himself.  But  if  all  his  brother  capitalists  were  to 
do  the  same,  where  would  he  find  his  commodities  in  the  mar- 
ket?    And  his  money  he  cannot  eat.     He  tries  persuasion. 

1  This  is  the  fundamental  proposition  on  which  is  based  the  doctrine  of  the 
Physiocrats  as  to  the  unproductiveness  of  all  labour  that  is  not  agriculture:  it  is 
irrefutable  for  the  orthodox  economist.  "Cette  facon  d'imputer  a  une  seule  chose 
la  valeur  de  plusieurs  autres"  (par  exemple  au  lin  la  consommation  du  tisserand), 
"d'appliquer,  pour  ainsi  dire,  couche  sur  couche,  plusieurs  valeurs  sur  une  seule, 
fait  que  celle-ci  grossit  d'autant  .  .  .  .  Le  terme  d'addition  peint  tres-bien  la 
maniere  dont  se  forme  le  prix  des  ouvrages  de  main-d'ceuvre;  ce  prix  n'est  qu'un 
total  de  plusieurs  valeurs  consommees  et  additionees  ensemble;  or,  additionner  n'est 
pas    multiplier."      ("Mercier    de   la    Riviere,"    1.   c,    p.    599.) 

2  Thus  from  1844-47  he  withdrew  part  of  his  capital  from  productive  employment, 
in  order  to  throw  it  away  in  railway  speculations;  and  so  also,  during  the  Ameri- 
can Civil  War,  he  closed  his  factory,  and  turned  his  work-people  into  the  streets, 
in  order  to  gamble  on  the  Liverpool  cotton  exchange. 

214  Capitalist  Production. 

"Consider  my  abstinence;  I  might  have  played  ducks  and 
drakes  with  the  15  shillings;  but  instead  of  that  I  consumed 
it  productively,  and  made  yarn  with  it."  Very  well,  and  by 
way  of  reward  he  is  now  in  possession  of  good  yarn  instead 
of  a  bad  conscience ;  and  as  for  playing  the  part  of  a  miser, 
it  would  never  do  for  him  to  relapse  into  such  bad  ways  as 
that ;  we  have  seen  before  to  what  results  such  asceticism 
leads.  Besides,  where  nothing  is,  the  king  has  lost  his  rights : 
whatever  may  be  the  merit  of  his  abstinence,  there  is  nothing 
wherewith  specially  to  remunerate  it,  because  the  value  of  the 
product  is  merely  the  sum  of  the  values  of  the  commodities 
that  were  thrown  into  the  process  of  production.  Let  him 
therefore  console  himself  with  the  reflection  that  virtue  is  its 
own  reward.  But  no,  he  becomes  importunate.  He  says: 
"The  yarn  is  of  no  use  to  me :  I  produced  it  for  sale."  In 
that  case  let  him  sell  it,  or,  still  better,  let  him  for  the  future 
produce  only  things  for  satisfying  his  personal  wants,  a  rem- 
edy that  his  physician  M'Culloch  has  already  prescribed  as 
infallible  against  an  epidemic  of  over-production.  He  now 
gets  obstinate.  "Can  the  labourer,"  he  asks,  "merely  with 
his  arms  and  legs,  produce  commodities  out  of  nothing  ?  Did 
I  not  supply  him  with  the  materials,  by  means  of  which,  and 
in  which  alone,  his  labour  could  be  embodied  ?  And  as  the 
greater  part  of  society  consists  of  such  ne'er-do-weels,  have  I 
not  rendered  society  incalculable  service  by  my  instruments 
of  production,  my  cotton  and  my  spindle,  and  not  only  society, 
but  the  labourer  also,  whom  in  addition  I  have  provided  with 
the  necessaries  of  life  ?  And  am  I  to  be  allowed  nothing  in 
return  for  all  this  service  V  Well,  but  has  not  the  labourer 
rendered  him  the  equivalent  service  of  changing  his  cotton 
and  spindle  into  yarn  ?  Moreover,  there  is  here  no  question  of 
service.1     A  service  is  nothing  more  than  the  useful  effect  of 

1  Extol  thyself,  put  on  finery  and  adorn  thyself  .  .  .  but  whoever  takes  more 
or  better  than  he  gives,  that  is  usury,  and  is  not  service,  but  wrong  done  to  his 
neighbour,  as  when  one  steals  and  robs.  All  is  not  service  and  benefit  to  a  neigh- 
bour that  is  called  service  and  benefit.  For  an  adulteress  and  adulterer  do  one 
another  great  service  and  pleasure.  A  horseman  does  an  incendiary  a  great  serv- 
ice, by  helping  him  to  rob  on  the  highway,  and  pillage  land  and  houses.  The 
papists  do  ours  a  great  service  in  that  they  don't  drown,  burn,  murder  all  of 
them,    or   let  them   all   rot  in   prison;   but   let  some  live,   and  only   drive   them   out, 

The  Labour  Process.  21$ 

a  use-value,  be  it  of  a  commodity,  or  be  it  of  labour.1  But 
here  we  are  dealing  with  exchange-value.  The  capitalist  paid 
to  the  labourer  a  value  of  3  shillings,  and  the  labourer  gave 
him  back  an  exact  equivalent  in  the  value  of  3  shillings,  added 
by  him  to  the  cotton :  he  gave  him  value  for  value.  Our 
friend,  up  to  this  time  so  purse-proud,  suddenly  assumes  the 
modest  demeanour  of  his  own  workman,  and  exclaims :  "Have 
I  myself  not  worked  ?  Have  I  not  performed  the  labour  of 
superintendence  and  of  overlooking  the  spinner  ?  And  does 
not  this  labour,  too,  create  value  ?"  His  overlooker  and  his 
manager  try  to  hide  their  smiles.  Meanwhile,  after  a  hearty 
laugh,  he  re-assumes  his  usual  mien.  Though  he  chanted  to 
us  the  whole  creed  of  the  economists,  in  reality,  he  says,  he 
would  not  give  a  brass  farthing  for  it.  He  leaves  this  and  all 
such  like  subterfuges  and  juggling  tricks  to  the  professors  of 
political  economy,  who  are  paid  for  it.  He  himself  is  a  prac- 
tical man ;  and  though  he  does  not  always  consider  what  he 
says  outside  his  business,  yet  in  his  business  he  knows  what 
he  is  about. 

Let  us  examine  the  matter  more  closely.  The  value  of  a 
day's  labour-power  amounts  to  3  shillings,  because  on  our  as- 
sumption half  a  day's  labour  is  embodied  in  that  quantity  of 
labour-power,  i.e.,  because  the  means  of  subsistence  that  are 
daily  required  for  the  production  of  labour-power,  cost  half  a 
day's  labour.  But  the  past  labour  that  is  embodied  in  the 
labour-power,  and  the  living  labour  that  it  can  call  into  action ; 
the  daily  cost  of  maintaining  it,  and  its  daily  expenditure  in 
work,  are  two  totally  different  things.  The  former  determines 
the  exchange-value  of  the  labour-power,  the  latter  is  its  use- 
value.  The  fact  that  half  a  day's  labour  is  necessary  to  keep 
the  labourer  alive  during  24  hours,  does  not  in  any  way  pre- 
vent him  from  working  a  whole  day.  Therefore,  the  value  of 
labour-power,  and  the  value  which  that  labour-power  creates 

or  take  from  them  what  they  have.  The  devil  himself  does  his  servants  inestimable 
service  ...  To  sum  up,  the  world  is  full  of  great,  excellent,  and  daily  service 
and  benefit."  (Martin  Luther:  "An  die  Pfarherrn,  wider  den  Wucher  zu 
piedigen,"    Wittenberg,    1540.) 

xIn  "Critique  of  Pol.  Ec,"  p.  34,  I  make  the  following  remark  on  this  point — "It 
is  not  difficult  to  understand  what  'service'  the  category  'service'  must  render  to  a 
class  of  economists  like  J.   B.   Say   and  F.    Bastiat." 

216  Capitalist  Production* 

in  the  labour  process,  are  two  entirely  different  magnitudes; 
and  this  difference  of  the  two  values  was  what  the  capitalist 
had  in  view,  when  he  was  purchasing  the  labour-power.  The 
useful  qualities  that  labour-power  possesses,  and  by  virtue  of 
which  it  makes  yarn  or  boots,  were  to  him  nothing  more  than 
a  conditio  sine  qua  non ;  for  in  order  to  create  value,  labour 
must  be  expended  in  a  useful  manner.  What  really  influenced 
him  was  the  specific  use-value  which  this  commodity  possesses 
of  being  a  source  not  only  of  value,  but  of  more  value  than  it 
has  itself.  This  is  the  special  service  that  the  capitalist  ex- 
pects from  labour-power,  and  in  this  transaction  he  acts  in  ac- 
cordance with  the  "eternal  laws"  of  the  exchange  of  commodi- 
ties. The  seller  of  labour-power,  like  the  seller  of  any  other 
commodity,  realises  its  exchange-value,  and  parts  with  its  use- 
value.  He  cannot  take  the  one  without  giving  the  other.  The 
use-value  of  labour-power,  or  in  other  words,  labour,  belongs 
just  as  little  to  its  seller,  as  the  use-value  of  oil  after  it  has 
been  sold  belongs  to  the  dealer  who  has  sold  it.  The  owner 
of  the  money  has  paid  the  value  of  a  day's  labour-power;  his, 
therefore,  is  the  use  of  it  for  a  day ;  a  day's  labour  belongs  to 
him.  The  circumstance,  that  on  the  one  hand  the  daily  sus- 
tenance of  labour-power  costs  only  half  a  day's  labour,  while 
on  the  other  hand  the  very  same  labour-power  can  work  during 
a  whole  day,  that  consequently  the  value  which  its  use  during 
one  day  creates,  is  double  what  he  pays  for  that  use,  this  cir- 
cumstance is,  without  doubt,  a  piece  of  good  luck  for  the 
buyer,  but  by  no  means  an  injury  to  the  seller. 

Our  capitalist  foresaw  this  state  of  things,  and  that  was  the 
cause  of  his  laughter.  The  labourer  therefore  finds,  in  the 
workshop,  the  means  of  production  necessary  for  working,  not 
only  during  six,  but  during  twelve  hours.  Just  as  during  the 
six  hours'  process  our  10  lbs.  of  cotton  absorbed  six  hours' 
labour,  and  became  10  lbs.  of  yarn,  so  now,  20  lbs.  of  cotton 
will  absorb  12  hours'  labour  and  be  changed  into  20  lbs.  of 
yarn.  Let  us  now  examine  the  product  of  this  prolonged 
process.  There  is  now  materialised  in  this  20  lbs.  of  yarn  the 
labour  of  five  days,  of  which  four  days  are  due  to  the  cotton 
and  the  lost  steel  of  the  spindle,  the  remaining  day  having 

The  Labour  Process.  2ij 

been  absorbed  by  the  cotton  during  the  spinning  process.  Ex- 
pressed in  gold,  the  labour  of  five  days  is  thirty  shillings. 
This  is  therefore  the  price  of  the  20  lbs.  of  yarn,  giving,  as 
before,  eighteenpence  as  the  price  of  a  pound.  But  the  sum 
of  the  values  of  the  commodities  that  entered  into  the  process 
amounts  to  27  shillings.  The  value  of  the  yarn  is  30  shillings. 
Therefore  the  value  of  the  product  is  -|-  greater  than  the  value 
advanced  for  its  production ;  27  shillings  have  been  trans- 
formed into  30  shillings ;  a  surplus-value  of  3  shillings  has 
been  created.  The  trick  has  at  last  succeeded ;  money  has 
been  converted  into  capital. 

Every  condition  of  the  problem  is  satisfied,  while  the  laws 
that  regulate  the  exchange  of  commodities,  have  been  in  no 
way  violated.  Equivalent  has  been  exchanged  for  equivalent. 
For  the  capitalist  as  buyer  paid  for  each  commodity,  for  the 
cotton,  the  spindle  and  the  labour-power,  its  full  value.  He 
then  did  what  is  done  by  every  purchaser  of  commodities ;  he 
consumed  their  use-value.  The  consumption  of  the  labour- 
power,  which  was  also  the  process  of  producing  commodities, 
resulted  in  20  lbs.  of  yarn,  having  a  value  of  30  shillings. 
The  capitalist,  formerly  a  buyer,  now  returns  to  market  as  a 
seller,  of  commodities.  He  sells  his  yarn  at  eighteenpence  a 
pound,  which  is  its  exact  value.  Yet  for  all  that  he  with- 
draws 3  shillings  more  from  circulation  than  he  originally 
threw  into  it.  This  metamorphosis,  this  conversion  of  money 
into  capital,  takes  place  both  within  the  sphere  of  circulation 
and  also  outside  it ;  within  the  circulation,  because  conditioned 
by  the  purchase  of  the  labour-power  in  the  market ;  outside  the 
circulation,  because  what  is  done  within  it  is  only  a  stepping- 
stone  to  the  production  of  surplus-value,  a  process  which  is 
entirely  confined  to  the  sphere  of  production.  Thus  "tout  est 
pour  le  mieux  dans  le  meilleur  des  mondes  possibles." 

By  turning  his  money  into  commodities  that  serve  as  the 
material  elements  of  a  new  product,  and  as  factors  in  the  la- 
bour-process, by  incorporating  living  labour  with  their  dead 
substance,  the  capitalist  at  the  same  time  converts  value,  i.e., 
past,  materialised,  and  dead  labour  into  capital,  into  value  big 
with  value,  a  live  monster  that  is  fruitful  and  multiplies. 

218  Capitalist  Production. 

If  we  now  compare  the  two  processes  of  producing  value  and 
of  creating  surplus-value,  we  see  that  the  latter  is  nothing  but 
the  continuation  of  the  former  beyond  a  definite  point.  If  on 
the  one  hand  the  process  be  not  carried  beyond  the  point, 
where  the  value  paid  by  the  capitalist  for  the  labour-power  is 
replaced  by  an  exact  equivalent,  it  is  simply  a  process  of  pro- 
ducing value ;  if,  on  the  other  hand,  it  be  continued  beyond 
that  point,  it  becomes  a  process  of  creating  surplus-value. 

If  we  proceed  further,  and  compare  the  process  of  producing 
value  with  the  labour-process,  pure  and  simple,  we  find  that 
the  latter  consists  of  the  useful  labour,  the  work,  that  produces 
use-values.  Here  we  contemplate  the  labour  as  producing  a 
particular  article  ;  we  view  it  under  its  qualitative  aspect  alone, 
with  regard  to  its  end  and  aim.  But  viewed  as  a  value-creat- 
ing process,  the  same  labour-process  presents  itself  under  its 
quantitative  aspect  alone.  Here  it  is  a  question  merely  of  the 
time  occupied  by  the  labourer  in  doing  the  work ;  of  the  period 
during  which  the  labour-power  is  usefully  expended.  Here, 
the  commodities  that  take  part  in  the  process,  do  not  count 
any  longer  as  necessary  adjuncts  of  labour-power  in  the  pro- 
duction of  a  definite,  useful  object.  They  count  merely  as 
depositaries  of  so  much  absorbed  or  materialised  labour ;  that 
labour,  whether  previously  embodied  in  the  means  of  produc- 
tion, or  incorporated  in  them  for  the  first  time  during  the 
process  by  the  action  of  labour-power,  counts  in  either  case 
only  according  to  its  duration ;  it  amounts  to  so  many  hours  or 
days  as  the  case  may  be. 

Moreover,  only  so  much  of  the  time  spent  in  the  production 
of  any  article  is  counted,  as,  under  the  given  social  conditions, 
is  necessary.  The  consequences  of  this  are  various.  In  the 
first  place,  it  becomes  necessary  that  the  labour  should  be 
carried  on  under  normal  conditions.  If  a  self-acting  mule  is 
the  implement  in  general  use  for  spinning,  it  would  be  absurd 
to  supply  the  spinner  with  a  distaff  and  spinning  wheel.  The 
cotton  too  must  not  be  such  rubbish  as  to  cause  extra  waste  in 
being  worked,  but  must  be  of  suitable  quality.  Otherwise  the 
spinner  would  be  found  to  spend  more  time  in  producing  a 
pound  of  yarn  than  is  socially  necessary,  in  which  case  the 

The  Labour  Process.  219 

excess  of  time  would  create  neither  value  nor  money.  But 
whether  the  material  factors  of  the  process  are  of  normal 
quality  or  not,  depends  not  upon  the  labourer,  but  entirely 
upon  the  capitalist.  Then  again,  the  labour-power  itself  must 
be  of  average  efficacy.  In  the  trade  in  which  it  is  being  em- 
ployed, it  must  possess  the  average  skill,  handiness  and  quick- 
ness prevalent  in  that  trade,  and  our  capitalist  took  good  care 
to  buy  labour-power  of  such  normal  goodness.  This  power 
must  be  applied  with  the  average  amount  of  exertion  and  with 
the  usual  degree  of  intensity ;  and  the  capitalist  is  as  careful 
to  see  that  this  is  done,  as  that  his  workmen  are  not  idle  for  a 
single  moment.  He  has  bought  the  use  of  the  labour-power 
for  a  definite  period,  and  he  insists  upon  his  rights.  He  has 
no  intention  of  being  robbed.  Lastly,  and  for  this  purpose  our 
friend  has  a  penal  code  of  his  own,  all  wasteful  consumption  of 
raw  material  or  instruments  of  labour  is  strictly  forbidden,  be- 
cause what  is  so  wasted,  represents  labour  superfluously  ex- 
pended, labour  that  does  not  count  in  the  product  or  enter  into 
its  value.1 

We  now  see,  that  the  difference  between  labour,  considered 
on  the  one  hand  as  producing  utilities,  and  on  the  other  hand, 

1  This  is  one  of  the  circumstances  that  makes  production  by  slave  labour  such 
a  costly  process.  The  labourer  here  is,  to  use  a  striking  expression  of  the  ancients, 
distinguishable  only  as  instrumentum  vocale,  from  an  animal  as  instrumentum 
semi-vocale,  and  from  an  implement  as  instrumentum  mutum.  But  he  himself 
takes  care  to  let  both  beast  and  implement  feel  that  he  is  none  of  them,  but  is  a 
man.  He  convinces  himself  with  immense  satisfaction,  that  he  is  a  different  being, 
by  treating  the  one  unmercifully  and  damaging  the  other  con  amore.  Hence  the 
principle,  universally  applied  in  this  method  of  production,  only  to  employ  the  rudest 
and  heaviest  implements  and  such  as  are  difficult  to  damage  owing  to  their  sheer 
clumsiness.  In  the  slave-states  bordering  on  the  Gulf  of  Mexico,  down  to  the  date 
of  the  civil  war,  ploughs  constructed  on  old  Chinese  models,  which  turned  up  the 
soil  like  a  hog  or  a  mole,  instead  of  making  furrows,  were  alone  to  be  found.  Conf. 
J.  C.  Cairns.  "The  Slave  Power,"  London,  1862,  p.  46-49.  In  his  "Sea  Board 
Slave  States,"  Olmsted  tells  us:  "I  am  here  shown  tools  that  no  man  in  his  senses, 
with  us,  would  allow  a  labourer,  for  whom  he  was  paying  wages,  to  be  incumbered 
with;  and  the  excessive  weight  and  clumsiness  of  which,  I  would  judge,  would  make 
■work  at  least  ten  per  cent  greater  than  with  those  ordinarily  used  with  us.  And  I 
am  assured  that,  in  the  careless  and  clumsy  way  they  must  be  used  by  the  slaves, 
anything  lighter  or  less  rude  could  not  be  furnished  them  with  good  economy,  and 
that  such  tools  as  we  constantly  give  our  labourers  and  find  our  profit  in  giving 
them,  would  not  last  out  a  day  in  a  Virginia  cornfield — much  lighter  and  more 
free  from  stones  though  it  be  than  ours.  So,  too,  when  I  ask  why  mules  are  so 
universally  substituted  for  horses  on  the  farm,  the  first  reason  given,  and  confessedly 
the  most  conclusive  one,  is  that  horses  cannot  bear  the  treatment  that  they  always 
must  get  from  the  negroes;  horses  are  always  soon  foundered  or  crippled  by  them, 

220  Capitalist  Production. 

as  creating  value,  a  difference  which  we  discovered  by  our 
analysis  of  a  commodity,  resolves  itself  into  a  distinction  be- 
tween two  aspects  of  the  process  of  production. 

The  process  of  production,  considered  on  the  one  hand  as 
the  unity  of  the  labour-process  and  the  process  of  creating 
value,  is  production  of  commodities;  considered  on  the  other 
hand  as  the  unity  of  the  labour-process  and  the  process  of  pro- 
ducing surplus-value,  it  is  the  capitalist  process  of  production, 
or  capitalist  production  of  commodities. 

We  stated,  on  a  previous  page,  that  in  the  creation  of 
surplus-value  it  does  not  in  the  least  matter,  whether  the  labour 
appropriated  by  the  capitalist  be  simple  unskilled  labour  of 
average  quality  or  more  complicated  skilled  labour.  All 
labour  of  a  higher  or  more  complicated  character  than  average 
labour  is  expenditure  of  labour-power  of  a  more  costly  kind, 
labour-power  whose  production  has  cost  more  time  and  labour, 
and  which  therefore  has  a  higher  value,  than  unskilled  or 
simple  labour-power.  This  power  being  of  higher  value,  its 
consumption  is  labour  of  a  higher  class,  labour  that  creates  in 
equal  times  proportionally  higher  values  than  unskilled  labour 
does.  Whatever  difference  in  skill  there  may  be  between  the 
labour  of  a  spinner  and  that  of  a  jeweller,  the  portion  of  his 
labour  by  which  the  jeweller  merely  replaces  the  value  of  his 
own  labour-power,  does  not  in  any  way  differ  in  quality  from 
the  additional  portion  by  which  he  creates  surplus-value.  In 
the  making  of  jewellery,  just  as  in  spinning,  the  surplus-value 
results  only  from  a  quantitative  excess  of  labour,  from  a 
lengthening-out  of  one  and  the  same  labour-process,  in  the  one 
case,  of  the  process  of  making  jewels,  in  the  other  of  the  pro- 
cess of  making  yarn.1 

while  mules  will  bear  cudgelling,  or  lose  a  meal  or  two  now  and  then,  and  not  be 
materially  injured,  and  they  do  not  take  cold  or  get  sick,  if  neglected  or  over- 
worked. But  I  do  not  need  to  go  further  than  the  window  of  the  room  in  which  I 
am  writing,  to  see  at  almost  any  time,  treatment  of  cattle  that  would  ensure  the  im- 
mediate discharge  of  the  driver  by  almost  any  farmer  owning  them  in  the  North." 

1  The  distinction  between  skilled  and  unskilled  labour  rests  in  part  on  pure  illu- 
sion, or,  to  say  the  least,  on  distinctions  that  have  long  since  ceased  to  be  real,  and 
that  survive  only  by  virtue  of  a  traditional  convention;  in  part  on  the  helpless  con- 
dition of  some  groups  of  the  working-class,  a  condition  that  prevents  them  from 
exacting  equally  with  the  rest  the  value  of  their  labour-power.  Accidental  cir- 
cumstances  here   play   so   great  a   part,   that   these    two    forms   of   labour   sometimes 

Constant  Capital  and  Variable  Capital.  2,2.1 

But  on  the  other  hand,  in  every  process  of  creating  value, 
the  reduction  of  skilled  labour  to  average  social  labour,  e.g., 
one  day  of  skilled  to  six  days  of  unskilled  labour,  is  un- 
avoidable.1 We  therefore  save  ourselves  a  superfluous  oper- 
ation, and  simplify  our  analysis,  by  the  assumption,  that  the 
labour  of  the  workman  employed  by  the  capitalist  is  unskilled 
average  labour. 



The  various  factors  of  the  labour-process  play  different  parts 
in  forming  the  value  of  the  product. 

The  labourer  adds  fresh  value  to  the  subject  of  his  labour 
by  expending  upon  it  a  given  amount  of  additional  labour,  no 
matter  what  the  specific  character  and  utility  of  that  labour 
may  be.  On  the  other  hand,  the  values  of  the  means  of  pro- 
duction used  up   in  the  process  are  preserved,   and  present 

change  places.  Where,  for  instance,  the  physique  of  the  working-class  has  deterio- 
rated, and  is,  relatively  speaking,  exhausted,  which  is  the  case  in.  all  countries  with  a 
well  developed  capitalist  production,  the  lower  forms  of  labour  which  demand  great 
expenditure  of  muscle,  are  in  general  considered  as  skilled,  compared  with  much 
more  delicate  forms  of  labour;  the  latter  sink  down  to  the  level  of  unskilled  labour. 
Take  as  an  example  the  labour  of  a  bricklayer,  which  in  England  occupies  a  much 
higher  level  than  that  of  a  damask-weaver.  Again,  although  the  labour  of  a  fustian 
cutter  demands  great  bodily  exertion,  and  is  at  the  same  time  unhealthy,  yet  it 
counts  only  as  unskilled  labour.  And  then,  we  must  not  forget,  that  the  so-called 
skilled  labour  does  not  occupy  a  large  space  in  the  field  of  national  labour.  Laing 
estimates  that  in  England  (and  Wales)  the  livelihood  of  11,300,000  people  depends 
on  unskilled  labour.  If  from  the  total  population  of  18,000,000  living  at  the  time 
when  he  wrote,  we  deduct  1,000,000  for  the  "genteel  population,"  and  1,500,000 
for  paupers,  vagrants,  criminals,  prostitutes,  &c,  and  4,650,000  who  compose  the 
middle-class,  there  remain  the  above  mentioned  11,000,000.  But  in  his  middle-class 
he  includes  people  that  live  on  the  interest  of  small  investments,  officials,  men  of 
letters,  artists,  schoolmasters  and  the  like,  and  in  order  to  swell  the  number  he  also 
includes  in  these  4,650,000  the  better  paid  portion  of  the  factory  operatives!  The 
bricklayers,  too,  figure  amongst  them.  (S.  Laing:  "National  Distress,"  &c,  London, 
1844.)  "The  great  class  who  have  nothing  to  give  for  food  but  ordinary  labour,  are 
the  great  bulk  of  the  people."  (James  Mill,  in  art:  "Colony,"  Supplement  to  the 
Encyclop.    Brit.,   1831.) 

1  "Where  reference  is  made  to  labour  as  a  measure  of  value,  it  necessarily  implies 
labour  of  one  particular  kind  .  .  .  the  proportion  which  the  other  kinds  bear  to  it 
being  easily  ascertained."     ("Outlines  of  Pol.   Econ.,"  Lond.,  1832,  pp.   22  and  23.) 

222  Capitalist  Production. 

themselves  afresh  as  constituent  parts  of  the  value  of  the  pro- 
duct ;  the  values  of  the  cotton  and  the  spindle,  for  instance,  re- 
appear again  in  the  value  of  the  yarn.  The  value  of  the 
means  of  production  is  therefore  preserved,  by  being  trans- 
ferred to  the  product.  This  transfer  takes  place  during  the 
conversion  of  those  means  into  a  product,  or  in  other  words, 
during  the  labour-process.  It  is  brought  about  by  labour ;  but 
how  ? 

The  labourer  does  not  perform  two  operations  at  once,  one 
in  order  to  add  value  to  the  cotton,  the  other  in  order  to  pre- 
serve the  value  of  the  means  of  production,  or,  in  what  amounts 
to  the  same  thing,  to  transfer  to  the  yarn,  to  the  product,  the 
value  of  the  cotton  on  which  he  works,  and  part  of  the  value 
of  the  spindle  with  which  he  works.  But,  by  the  very  act  of 
adding  new  value,  he  preserves  their  former  values.  Since, 
however,  the  addition  of  new  value  to  the  subject  of  his  labour, 
and  the  preservation  of  its  former  value,  are  two  entirely  dis- 
tinct results,  produced  simultaneously  by  the  labourer,  during 
one  operation,  it  is  plain  that  this  twofold  nature  of  the  re- 
sult can  be  explained  only  by  the  twofold  nature  of  his  labour ; 
at  one  and  the  same  time,  it  must  in  one  character  create  value, 
and  in  another  character  preserve  or  transfer  value. 

Now,  in  what  manner  does  every  labourer  add  new  labour 
and  consequently  new  value  ?  Evidently,  only  by  labouring 
productively  in  a  particular  way ;  the  spinner  by  spinning,  the 
weaver  by  weaving,  the  smith  by  forging.  But,  while  thus 
incorporating  labour  generally,  that  is  value,  it  is  by  the  par- 
ticular form  alone  of  the  labour,  by  the  spinning,  the  weaving 
and  the  forging  respectively,  that  the  means  of  production,  the 
cotton  and  spindle,  the  yarn  and  loom,  and  the  iron  and  anvil 
become  constituent  elements  of  the  product,  of  a  new  use- 
value.1  Each  use-value  disappears,  but  only  to  re-appear 
under  a  new  form  in  a  new  use-value.  Now,  we  saw,  when 
we  were  considering  the  process  of  creating  value,  that,  if  a 
use-value  be  effectively  consumed  in  the  production  of  a  new 
use-value,  the  quantity  of  labour  expended  in  the  production 

1  "Labour  gives  a  new  creation  for  one  extinguished."  ("An  essay  on  the  Polit. 
Econ.  of  Nations."  London,  1821,  p.   13.) 

Constant  Capital  and  Variable  Capital.  223 

of  the  consumed  article,  forms  a  portion  of  the  quantity  of 
labour  necessary  to  produce  the  new  use-value ;  this  portion  is 
therefore  labour  transferred  from  the  means  of  production  to 
the  new  product.  Hence,  the  labourer  preserves  the  values  of 
the  consumed  means  of  production,  or  transfers  them  as  por- 
tions of  its  value  to  the  product,  not  by  virtue  of  his  additional 
labour,  abstractedly  considered,  but  by  virtue  of  the  particular 
useful  character  of  that  labour,  by  virtue  of  its  special  pro- 
ductive form.  In  so  far  then  as  labour  is  such  specific  produc- 
tive activity,  in  so  far  as  it  is  spinning,  weaving,  or  forging, 
it  raises,  by  mere  contact,  the  means  of  production  from  the 
dead,  makes  them  living  factors  of  the  labour-process,  and 
combines  with  them  to  form  the  new  products. 

If  the  special  productive  labour  of  the  workman  were  not 
spinning,  he  could  not  convert  the  cotton  into  yarn,  and  there- 
fore could  not  transfer  the  values  of  the  cotton  and  spindle  to 
the  yarn.  Suppose  the  same  workman  were  to  change  his 
occupation  to  that  of  a  joiner,  he  would  still  by  a  day's  labour 
add  value  to  the  material  he  works  upon.  Consequently,  we 
see,  first,  that  the  addition  of  new  value  takes  place  not  by 
virtue  of  his  labour  being  spinning  in  particular,  or  joinering 
in  particular,  but  because  it  is  labour  in  the  abstract,  a  portion 
of  the  total  labour  of  society ;  and  we  see  next,  that  the  value 
added  is  of  a  given  definite  amount,  not  because  his  labour 
has  a  special  utility,  but  because  it  is  exerted  for  a  definite 
time.  On  the  one  hand,  then,  it  is  by  virtue  of  its  general 
character,  as  being  expenditure  of  human  labour-power  in  the 
abstract,  that  spinning  adds  new  value  to  the  values  of  the 
cotton  and  the  spindle;  and  on  the  other  hand,  it  is  by  virtue 
of  its  special  character,  as  being  a  concrete,  useful  process,  that 
the  same  labour  of  spinning  both  transfers  the  values  of  the 
means  of  production  to  the  product,  and  preserves  them  in  the 
product.  Hence  at  one  and  the  same  time  there  is  produced  a 
twofold  result. 

By  the  simple  addition  of  a  certain  quantity  of  labour, 
new  value  is  added,  and  by  the  quality  of  this  added  labour, 
the  original  values  of  the  means  of  production  are  preserved 
in  the  product.     This  twofold  effect,  resulting  from  the  two- 

224  Capitalist  Production. 

fold  character  of  labour,  may  be  traced  in  various  phenomena* 
Let  us  assume,  that  some  invention  enables  the  spinner  to 
spin  as  much  cotton  in  6  hours  as  he  was  able  to  spin  before  in 
36  hours.  His  labour  is  now  six  times  as  effective  as  it  was, 
for  the  purposes  of  useful  production.  The  product  of  6 
hours'  work  has  increased  sixfold,  from  6  lbs.  to  36  lbs.  But 
now  the  36  lbs.  of  cotton  absorb  only  the  same  amount  of 
labour  as  formerly  did  the  6  lbs.  One-sixth  as  much  new 
labour  is  absorbed  by  each  pound  of  cotton,  and  consequently, 
the  value  added  by  the  labour  to  each  pound  is  only  one-sixth 
of  what  it  formerly  was.  On  the  other  hand,  in  the  product, 
in  the  36  lbs.  of  yarn,  the  value  transferred  from  the  cotton  is 
six  times  as  great  as  before.  By  the  6  hours'  spinning,  the 
value  of  the  raw  material  preserved  and  transferred  to  the 
product  is  six  times  as  great  as  before,  although  the  new  value 
added  by  the  labour  of  the  spinner  to  each  pound  of  the  very 
same  raw  material  is  one-sixth  what  it  was  formerly.  This 
shows  that  the  two  properties  of  labour,  by  virtue  of  which 
it  is  enabled  in  one  case  to  preserve  value,  and  in  the  other  to 
create  value,  are  essentially  different.  On  the  one  hand,  the 
longer  the  time  necessary  to  spin  a  given  weight  of  cotton  into 
yarn,  the  greater  is  the  new  value  added  to  the  material;  on 
the  other  hand,  the  greater  the  weight  of  the  cotton  spun  in  a 
given  time,  the  greater  is  the  value  preserved,  by  being  trans- 
ferred from  it  to  the  product. 

Let  us  now  assume,  that  the  productiveness  of  the  spinner's 
labour,  instead  of  varying,  remains  constant,  that  he  therefore 
requires  the  same  time  as  he  formerly  did,  to  convert  one 
pound  of  cotton  into  yarn,  but  that  the  exchange  value  of  the 
cotton  varies,  either  by  rising  to  six  times  its  former  value  or 
falling  to  one-sixth  of  that  value.  In  both  these  cases,  the 
spinner  puts  the  same  quantity  of  labour  into  a  pound  of  cot- 
ton, and  therefore  adds  as  much  value,  as  he  did  before  the 
change  in  the  value  :  he  also  produces  a  given  weight  of  yarn  in 
the  same  time  as  he  did  before.  Nevertheless,  the  value  that 
he  transfers  from  the  cotton  to  the  yarn  is  either  one-sixth 
of  what  it  was  before  the  variation,  or,  as  the  case  may  be, 
six  times  as  much  as  before.     The  same  result  occurs  when  the 

Constant  Capital  and  Variable  Capital.  225 

value  of  the  instruments  of  labour  rises  or  falls,  while  their 
useful  efficacy  in  the  process  remains  unaltered. 

Again,  if  the  technical  conditions  of  the  spinning  process  re- 
main unchanged,  and  no  change  of  value  takes  place  in  the 
means  of  production,  the  spinner  continues  to  consume  in 
equal  working-times  equal  quantities  of  raw  material,  and 
equal  quantities  of  machinery  of  unvarying  value.  The  value 
that  he  preserves  in  the  product  is  directly  proportional  to  the 
new  value  that  he  adds  to  the  product.  In  two  weeks  he  incor- 
porates twice  as  much  labour,  and  therefore  twice  as  much 
value,  as  in  one  week,  and  during  the  same  time  he  consumes 
twice  as  much  material,  and  wears  out  twice  as  much  ma- 
chinery, of  double  the  value  in  each  case;  he  therefore  pre- 
serves, in  the  product  of  two  weeks,  twice  as  much  value  as  in 
the  product  of  one  week.  So  long  as  the  conditions  of  produc- 
tion remain  the  same,  the  more  value  the  labourer  adds  by 
fresh  labour,,  the  more  value  he  transfers  and  preserves ;  but 
he  does  so  merely  because  this  addition  of  new  value  takes  place 
under  conditions  that  have  not  varied  and  are  independent  of 
his  own  labour.  Of  course,  it  may  be  said  in  one  sense,  that 
the  labourer  preserves  old  value  always  in  proportion  to  the 
quantity  of  new  value  that  he  adds.  Whether  the  value  of 
cotton  rise  from  one  shilling  to  two  shillings,  or  fall  to  six- 
pence, the  workman  invariably  preserves  in  the  product  of  one 
hour  only  one  half  as  much  value  as  he  preserves  in  two  hours. 
In  like  manner,  if  the  productiveness  of  his  own  labour  varies 
by  rising  or  falling,  he  will  in  one  hour  spin  either  more  or  less 
cotton,  as  the  case  may  be;  than  he  did  before,  and  will  con- 
sequently preserve  in  the  product  of  one  hour,  more  or  less 
value  of  cotton ;  but,  all  the  same,  he  will  preserve  by  two 
hours'  labour  twice  as  much  value  as  he  will  by  one. 

Value  exists  only  in  articles  of  utility,  in  objects :  we  leave 
out  of  consideration  its  purely  symbolical  representation  by 
tokens.  (Man  himself,  viewed  as  the  impersonation  of  labour- 
power,  is  a  natural  object,  a  thing,  although  a  living  conscious 
thing,  and  labour  is  the  manifestation  of  this  power  residing 
in  him.)  If  therefore  an  article  loses  it  utility,  it  also  loses 
its  value.     The  reason  why  means  of  production  do  not  lose 

226  Capitalist  Production. 

their  value,  at  the  same  time  that  they  lose  their  use-value,  is 
this :  they  lose  in  the  labour-process  the  original  form  of  their 
use-value,  only  to  assume  in  the  product  the  form  of  a  new  use- 
value.  But,  however  important  it  may  be  to  value,  that  it 
should  have  some  object  of  utility  to  embody  itself  in,  yet  it 
is  a  matter  of  complete  indifference  what  particular  object 
serves  this  purpose ;  this  we  saw  when  treating  of  the  meta- 
morphosis of  commodities.  Hence  it  follows  that  in  the 
labour-process  the  means  of  production  transfer  their  value 
to  the  product  only  so  far  as  along  with  their  use-value  they 
lose  also  their  exchange  value.  They  give  up  to  the  product 
that  value  alone  which  they  themselves  lose  as  means  of  pro- 
duction. But  in  this  respect  the  material  factors  of  the  labour- 
process  do  not  all  behave  alike. 

The  coal  burnt  under  the  boiler  vanishes  without  leaving  a 
trace ;  so,  too,  the  tallow  with  which  the  axles  of  wheels  are 
greased.  Dye  stuffs  and  other  auxiliary  substances  also  vanish 
but  re-appear  as  properties  of  the  product.  Raw  material 
forms  the  substance  of  the  product,  but  only  after  it  has 
changed  its  form.  Hence  raw  material  and  auxiliary  sub- 
stances lost  the  characteristic  form  with  which  they  are  clothed 
on  entering  the  labour-process.  It  is  otherwise  with  the  in- 
struments of  labour.  Tools,  machines,  workshops,  and  vessels, 
are  of  use  in  the  labour-process,  only  so  long  as  they  retain 
their  original  shape,  and  are  ready  each  morning  to  renew  the 
process  with  their  shape  unchanged.  And  just  as  during  their 
lifetime,  that  is  to  say,  during  the  continued  labour-process  in 
which  they  serve,  they  retain  their  shape  independent  of  the 
product,  so,  too,  they  do  after  their  death.  The  corpses  of 
machines,  tools,  workshops,  &c,  are  always  separate  and  dis- 
tinct from  the  product  they  helped  to  turn  out.  If  we  now 
consider  the  case  of  any  instrument  of  labour  during  the  whole 
period  of  its  service,  from  the  day  of  its  entry  into  the  work- 
shop, till  the  day  of  its  banishment  into  the  lumber  room,  we 
find  that  during  this  period  its  use-value  has  been  completely 
consumed,  and  therefore  its  exchange  value  completely  trans- 
ferred to  the  product.  For  instance,  if  a  spinning  machine 
lasts  for  10  years,  it  is  plain  that  during  that  working  period 

Constant  Capital  and  Variable  Capital.  227 

its  total  value  is  gradually  transferred  to  the  product  of  the 
10  years.  The  lifetime  of  an  instrument  of  labour,  therefore, 
is  spent  in  the  repetition  of  a  greater  or  less  number  of  similar 
operations.  Its  life  may  be  compared  with  that  of  a  human 
being.  Every  day  brings  a  man  24  hours  nearer  to  his  grave : 
but  how  many  days  he  has  still  to  travel  on  that  road,  no  man 
can  tell  accurately  by  merely  looking  at  him.  This  difficulty, 
however,  does  not  prevent  life  insurance  offices  from  drawing, 
by  means  of  the  theory  of  averages,  very  accurate,  and  at  the 
same  time  very  profitable  conclusions.  So  it  is  with  the  instru- 
ments of  labour.  It  is  known  by  experience  how  long  on  the 
average  a  machine  of  a  particular  kind  will  last.  Suppose  its 
use-value  in  the  labour-process  to  last  only  six  days.  Then, 
on  the  average,  it  loses  each  day  one-sixth  of  its  use-value,  and 
therefore  parts  with  one-sixth  of  its  value  to  the  daily  product. 
The  wear  and  tear  of  all  instruments,  their  daily  loss  of  use- 
value,  and  the  corresponding  quantity  of  value  they  part  with 
to  the  product,  are  accordingly  calculated  upon  this  basis. 

It  is  thus  strikingly  clear,  that  means  of  production  never 
transfer  more  value  to  the  product  than  they  themselves  lose 
during  the  labour-process  by  the  destruction  of  their  own  use- 
value.  If  such  an  instrument  has  no  value  to  lose,  if,  in  other 
words,  it  is  not  the  product  of  human  labour,  it  transfers  no 
value  to  the  product.  It  helps  to  create  use-value  without  con- 
tributing to  the  formation  of  exchange  value.  In  this  class 
are  included  all  means  of  production  supplied  by  Nature  with- 
out human  assistance,  such  as  land,  wind,  water,  metals  in 
situ,  and  timber  in  virgin  forests. 

Yet  another  interesting  phenomenon  here  presents  itself. 
Suppose  a  machine  to  be  worth  £1000,  and  to  wear  out  in  1000 
days.  Then  one  thousandth  part  of  the  value  of  the  machine 
is  daily  transferred  to  the  day's  product.  At  the  same  time, 
though  with  diminishing  vitality,  the  machine  as  a  whole  con- 
tinues to  take  part  in  the  labour-process.  Thus  it  appears 
that  one  factor  of  the  labour-process,  a  means  of  production, 
continually  enters  as  a  whole  into  that  process,  while  it  enters 
into  the  process  of  the  formation  of  value  by  fractions  only. 
The  difference  between  the  two  processes  is  here  reflected  in 

228  Capitalist  Production. 

their  material  factors,  by  the  same  instrument  of  production 
taking  part  as  a  whole  in  the  labour-process,  while  at  the  same 
time  as  an  element  in  the  formation  of  value,  it  enters  only  by 

On  the  other  hand,  a  means  of  production  may  take  part  as  a 
whole  in  the  formation  of  value,  while  into  the  labour-process 
it  enters  only  bit  by  bit.  Suppose  that  in  spinning  cotton,  the 
waste  for  every  115  lbs.  used  amounts  to  15  lbs.,  which  is  con- 
verted, not  into  yarn,  but  into  "devil's  dust."  Now,  although 
this  15  lbs.  of  cotton  never  becomes  a  constituent  element  of 
the  yarn,  yet  assuming  this  amount  of  waste  to  be  normal  and 
inevitable  under  average  conditions  of  spinning,  its  value  is 
just  as  surely  transferred  to  the  value  of  the  yarn,  as  is  the 
value  of  the  100  lbs.  that  form  the  substance  of  the  yarn.  The 
use-value  of  15  lbs.  of  cotton  must  vanish  into  dust,  before  100 
lbs.  of  yarn  can  be  made.  The  destruction  of  this  cotton  is 
therefore  a  necessary  condition  in  the  production  of  the  yarn. 
And  because  it  is  a  necessary  condition,  and  for  no  other  rea- 
son, the  value  of  that  cotton  is  transferred  to  the  product. 
The  same  holds  good  for  every  kind  of  refuse  resulting  from  a 
labour-process,  so  far  at  least  as  such  refuse  cannot  be  further 
employed  as  a  means  in  the  production  of  new  and  independent 

1  The  subject  of  repairs  of  the  implements  of  labour  does  not  concern  us  here.  A 
machine  that  is  undergoing  repair,  no  longer  plays  the  part  of  an  instrument,  but 
that  of  a  subject  of  labour.  Work  is  no  longer  done  with  it,  but  upon  it.  It  is 
quite  permissible  for  our  purpose  to  assume,  that  the  labour  expended  on  the  repairs 
of  instruments  is  included  in  the  labour  necessary  for  their  original  production. 
But  in  the  text  we  deal  with  that  wear  and  tear,  which  no  doctor  can  cure,  and 
which  little  by  little  brings  about  death,  with  "that  kind  of  wear  which  cannot  be 
repaired  from  time  to  time,  and  which,  in  the  case  of  a  knife,  would  ultimately  re- 
duce it  to  a  state  in  which  the  cutler  would  say  of  it,  it  is  not  worth  a  new  blade." 
We  have  shewn  in  the  text,  that  a  machine  takes  part  in  every  labour-process  as  an 
integral  machine,  but  that  into  the  simultaneous  process  of  creating  value  it  enters 
only  bit  by  bit.  How  great  then  is  the  confusion  of  ideas  exhibited  in  the  following 
extract!  "Mr.  Ricardo  says  a  portion  of  the  labour  of  the  engineer  in  making 
[stocking]  machines"  is  contained  for  example  in  the  value  of  a  pair  of  stockings. 
"Yet  the  total  labour,  that  produced  each  single  pair  of  stockings  ....  in- 
cludes the  whole  labour  of  the  engineer,  not  a  portion;  for  one  machine  makes  many 
pairs,  and  none  of  those  pairs  could  have  been  done  without  any  part  of  the  ma- 
chine." ("Obs.  on  certain  verbal  disputes  in  Pol.  Econ.  particularly  relating  to 
value,"  p.  54.)  The  author,  an  uncommonly  self-satisfied  wiseacre,  is  right  in  his 
confusion  and  therefore  in  his  contention,  to  this  extent  only,  that  neither  Ricardo 
nor  any  other  economist,  before  or  since  him,  has  accurately  distinguished  the  two 
aspects  of  labour,  and  still  less,  therefore,  the  part  played  by  it  under  each  of  these 
aspects  in  the  formation  of  value. 

Constant  Capital  and  Variable  Capital.  229 

use-values.  Such  an  employment  of  refuse  may  be  seen  in  the 
large  machine  works  at  Manchester,  where  mountains  of  iron 
turnings  are  carted  away  to  the  foundry  in  the  evening,  in 
order  the  next  morning  to  re-appear  in  the  workshops  as  solid 
masses  of  iron. 

We  have  seen  that  the  means  of  production  transfer  value  to 
the  new  product,  so  far  only  as  during  the  labour-process  they 
lose  value  in  the  shape  of  their  old  use-value.  The  maximum 
loss  of  value  that  they  can  suffer '  in  the  process,  is  plainly 
limited  by  the  amount  of  the  original  value  with  which  they 
came  into  the  process,  or  in  other  words,  by  the  labour-time 
necessary  for  their  production.  Therefore  the  means  of  pro- 
duction can  never  add  more  value  to  the  product  than  they 
themselves  possess  independently  of  the  process  in  which  they 
assist.  However  useful  a  given  kind  of  raw  material,  or  a 
machine,  or  other  means  of  production  may  be,  though  it  may 
cost  £150,  or,  say,  500  days'  labour,  yet  it  cannot,  under  any 
circumstances,  add  to  the  value  of  the  product  more  than  £150. 
Its  value  is  determined  not  by  the  labour-process  into  which  it 
enters  as  a  means  of  production,  but  by  that  out  of  which  it  has 
issued  as  a  product.  In  the  labour-process  it  only  serves  as  a 
mere  use-value,  a  thing  with  useful  properties,  and  could  not, 
therefore,  transfer  any  value  to  the  product,  unless  it  possessed 
such  value  previously.1 

1  From  this  we  may  judge  of  the  absurdity  of  J.  B.  Say,  who  pretends  to  account 
for  surplus-value  (Interest,  Profit,  Rent),  by  the  "services  productifs"  which  the 
means  of  production,  soil,  instruments,  and  raw  material,  render  in  the  labour-proc- 
ess by  means  of  their  use-values.  Mr.  Wm.  Roscher  who  seldom  loses  an  occasion 
of  registering,  in  black  and  white,  ingenious  apologetic  fancies,  records  the  following 
specimen: — "J.  B.  Say  (Traite,  t.  1.  ch.  4)  very  truly  remarks:  the  value  produced 
by  an  oil  mill,  after  deduction  of  all  costs,  is  something  new,  something  quite  differ- 
ent from  the  labour  by  which  the  oil  mill  itself  was  erected."  (1.  c,  p.  82,  note.) 
Very  true,  Mr.  Professor!  the  oil  produced  by  the  oil  mill  is  indeed  something  very 
different  from  the  labour  expended  in  constructing  the  mill!  By  value,  Mr.  Roscher 
understands  such  stuff  as  "oil,"  because  oil  has  value,  notwithstanding  that  "Na- 
ture" produces  petroleum,  though  relatively  "in  small  quantities,"  a  fact  to  which 
he  seems  to  refer  in  his  further  observation:  "It  (Nature)  produces  scarcely  any 
exchange  value."  Mr.  Roscher's  "Nature"  and  the  exchange  value  it  produces  are 
rather  like  the  foolish  virgin  who  admitted  indeed  that  she  had  had  a  child,  but  "it 
was  such  a  little  one."  This  "savant  serieux"  in  continuation  remarks:  "Ricardo's 
school  is  in  the  habit  of  including  capital  as  accumulated  labour  under  the  head  of 
labour.  This  is  unskilful  work,  because,  indeed,  the  owner  of  capital,  after  all,  does 
something  more  than  the  merely  creating  and  preserving  of  the  same:  namely,  the 
abstention  from  the  enjoyment  of  it,  for  which  he  demands,  e.g.,  interest."     (1.  c.) 

230  Capitalist  Production. 

While  productive  labour  is  changing  the  means  of  produc- 
tion into  constituent  elements  of  a  new  product,  their  value 
undergoes  a  metempsychosis.  It  deserts  the  consumed  body, 
to  occupy  the  newly  created  one.  But  this  transmigration 
takes  place,  as  it  were,  behind  the  back  of  the  labourer.  He 
is  unable  to  add  new  labour,  to  create  new  value,  without  at 
the  same  time  preserving  old  values,  and  this,  because  the 
labour  he  adds  must  be  of  a  specific  useful  kind ;  and  he  can- 
not do  work  of  a  useful  kind,  without  employing  products  as 
the  means  of  production  of  a  new  product,  and  thereby  trans- 
ferring their  value  to  the  new  product.  The  property  there- 
fore which  labour-power  in  action,  living  labour,  possesses  of 
preserving  value,  at  the  same  time  that  it  adds  it,  is  a  gift  of 
Nature  which  costs  the  labourer  nothing,  but  which  is  very 
advantageous  to  the  capitalist  inasmuch  as  it  preserves  the 
existing  value  of  his  capital.1  So  long  as  trade  is  good,  the 
capitalist  is  too  much  absorbed  in  money-grubbing  to  take 
notice  of  this  gratuitous  gift  of  labour.  A  violent  interruption 
of  the  labour-process  by  a  crisis,  makes  him  sensitively  aware 
of  it.2 

As  regards  the  means  of  production,  what  is  really  consumed 
is  their  use-value,  and  the  consumption  of  this  use-value  by 
labour  results  in  the  product.     There  is  no  consumption  of 

How  very   "skilful"    is  this   "anatomico-physiological   method"    of   political    economy, 
which,    "indeed,"   converts  a  mere   desire   "after  all"   into  a   source  of   value. 

1  "Of  all  the  instruments  of  the  farmers'  trade,  the  labour  of  man  ...  is  that  on 
which  he  is  most  to  rely  for  the  repayment  of  his  capital.  The  other  two  .  .  .  the 
working  stock  of  the  cattle  and  the  .  .  .  carts,  ploughs,  spades,  and  so  forth, 
without  a  given  portion  of  the  first,  are  nothing  at  all."  (Edmund  Burke: 
"Thoughts  and  Details  on  Scarcity,  originally  presented  to  the  Right  Hon.  W.  Pitt, 
in  the  month  of  November  1795,"  Edit.  London,  1800,  p.  10.) 

2  In  "The  Times"  of  26th  November,  1862,  a  manufacturer,  whose  mill  employed 
800  hands,  and  consumed,  on  the  average,  150  bales  of  East  Indian,  or  130  bales  of 
American  cotton,  complains,  in  doleful  manner,  of  the  standing  expenses  of  his 
factory  when  not  working.  He  estimates  them  at  £6,000  a  year.  Among  them  are 
a  number  of  items  that  do  not  concern  us  here,  such  as  rent,  rates,  and  taxes,  in- 
surance, salaries  of  the  manager,  book-keeper,  engineer,  and  others.  Then  he  reck- 
ons £150  for  coal  used  to  heat  the  mill  occasionally,  and  run  the  engine  now  and 
then.  Besides  this,  he  includes  the  wages  of  the  people  employed  at  odd  times  to 
keep  the  machinery  in  working  order.  Lastly,  he  puts  down  £1,200  for  depreciation 
of  machinery,  because  "the  weather  and  the  natural  principle  of  decay  do  not  sus- 
pend their  operations  because  the  steam-engine  ceases  to  revolve."  He  says,  em- 
phatically,   he   does   not    estimate    his   depreciation    at    more   than   the   small   sum    of 

£1,200,   because  his  machinery  is  already  nearly  worn  out. 

Constant  Capital  and  Variable  Capital.  231 

their  value,1  and  it  would  therefore  be  inaccurate  to  say  that 
it  is  reproduced.  It  is  rather  preserved ;  not  by  reason  of  any 
operation  it  undergoes  itself  in  the  process ;  but  because  the 
article  in  which  it  originally  exists,  vanishes,  it  is  true,  but 
vanishes  into  some  other  article.  Hence,  in  the  value  of  the 
product,  there  is  a  re-appearance  of  the  value  of  the  means  of 
production,  but  there  is,  strictly  speaking,  no  reproduction  of 
that  value.  That  which  is  produced  is  a  new  use-value  in 
which  the  old  exchange-value  re-appears.2 

It  is  otherwise  with  the  subjective  factor  of  the  labour-pro- 
cess, with  labour-power  in  action.  While  the  labourer,  by 
virtue  of  his  labour  being  of  a  specialised  kind  that  has  a 
special  object,  preserves  and  transfers  to  the  product  the  value 
of  the  means  of  production,  he  at  the  same  time,  by  the  mere 
act  of  working,  creates  each  instant  an  additional  or  new  value. 
Suppose  the  process  of  production  to  be  stopped  just  when  the 
workman  has  produced  an  equivalent  for  the  value  of  his  own 
labour-power,  when,  for  example,  by  six  hours'  labour,  he  has 
added  a  value  of  three  shillings.  This  value  is  the  surplus,  of 
the  total  value  of  the  product,  over  the  portion  of  its  value 
that  is  due  to  the  means  of  production.  It  is  the  only  original 
bit  of  value  formed  during  this  process,  the  only  portion  of  the 
value  of  the  product  created  by  this  process.  Of  course,  we 
do  not  forget  that  this  new  value  only  replaces  the  money 
advanced  by  the  capitalist  in  the  purchase  of  the  labour-power, 

1  "Productive  consumption  .  .  .  where  the  consumption  of  a  commodity  is  a  part 
of  the  process  of  production.  ...  In  these  instances  there  is  no  consumption  of 
value."      (S.   P.   Newman,   1.  c.  p.   296.) 

2  In  an  American  compendium  that  has  gone  through,  perhaps,  20  editions,  this 
passage  occurs:  "It  matters  not  in  what  form  capital  re-appears;"  then  after  a 
lengthy  enumeration  of  all  the  possible  ingredients  of  production  whose  value  re- 
appears in  the  product,  the  passage  concludes  thus:  "The  various  kinds  of  food, 
clothing,  and  shelter,  necessary  for  the  existence  and  comfort  of  the  human  being, 
are  also  changed.  They  are  consumed  from  time  to  time,  and  their  value  re-appears 
in  that  new  vigour  imparted  to  his  body  and  mind,  forming  fresh  capital,  to  be  em- 
ployed again  in  the  work  of  production."  (F.  Wayland,  1.  c.  pp.  31,  32.)  Without 
noticing  any  other  oddities,  it  suffices  to  observe,  that  what  re-appears  in  the  fresh 
vigour,  is  not  the  bread's  price,  but  its  blood-forming  substances.  What,  on  the 
other  hand,  re-appears  in  the  value  of  that  vigour,  is  not  the  means  of  subsistence, 
but  their  value.  The  same  necessaries  of  life,  at  half  the  price,  would  form  just  as 
much  muscle  and  bone,  just  as  much  vigour,  but  not  vigour  of  the  same  value.  This 
confusion  of  "value"  and  "vigour"  coupled  with  our  author's  pharisaical  indefinite- 
ness,  mark  an  attempt,  futile  for  all  that,  to  thrash  out  an  explanation  of  surplus- 
value  from  a  mere  re-appearance  of  pre-existing  values. 

2^2  Capitalist  Production. 

and  spent  by  the  labourer  on  the  necessaries  of  life.  With 
regard  to  the  money  spent,  the  new  value  is  merely  a  repro- 
duction ;  but,  nevertheless,  it  is  an  actual,  and  not,  as  in  the 
case  of  the  value  of  the  means  of  production,  only  an  apparent, 
reproduction.  The  substitution  of  one  value  for  another,  is 
here  effected  by  the  creation  of  new  value. 

We  know.,  however,  from  what  has  gone  before,  that  the 
labour-process  may  continue  beyond  the  time  necessary  to  re- 
produce and  incorporate  in  the  product  a  mere  equivalent  for 
the  value  of  the  labour-power.  Instead  of  the  six  hours  that 
are  sufficient  for  the  latter  purpose,  the  process  may  continue 
for  twelve  hours.  The  action  of  labour-power,  therefore,  not 
only  reproduces  its  own  value,  but  produces  value  over  and 
above  it.  This  surplus-value  is  the  difference  between  the 
7alue  of  the  product  and  the  value  of  the  elements  consumed 
in  the  formation  of  that  product,  in  other  words,  of  the  means 
of  production  and  the  labour-power. 

By  our  explanation  of  the  different  parts  played  by  the  vari- 
ous factors  of  the  labour-process  in  the  formation  of  the  pro- 
duct's value,  we  have,  in  fact,  disclosed  the  characters  of  the 
different  functions  allotted  to  the  different  elements  of  capital 
in  the  process  of  expanding  its  own  value.  The  surplus  of  the 
total  value  of  the  product,  over  the  sum  of  the  values  of  its 
constituent  factors,  is  the  surplus  of  the  expanded  capital  over 
the  capital  originally  advanced.  The  means  of  production  on 
the  one  hand,  labour-power  on  the  other,  are  merely  the  differ- 
ent modes  of  existence  which  the  value  of  the  original  capita^1 
assumed  when  from  being  money  it  was  transformed  into  the 
various  factors  of  the  labour-process.  That  part  of  capital 
then,  which  is  represented  by  the  means  of  production,  by  the 
raw  material,  auxiliary  material  and  the  instruments  of  labour, 
does  not,  in  the  process  of  production,  undergo  any  quantitative 
alteration  of  value.  I  therefore  call  it  the  constant  part  of 
capital,  or,  more  shortly,  constant  capital. 

On  the  other  hand,  that  part  of  capital,  represented  by 
labour-power,  does,  in  the  process  of  production,  undergo  an 
alteration  of  value.  It  both  reproduces  the  equivalent  of  its 
own  value,  and  also  produces  an  excess,  a  surplus-value,  which 

Constant  Capital  and  Variable  Capital.  233 

may  itself  vary,  may  be  more  or  less  according  to  circum- 
stances. This  part  of  capital  is  continually  being  transformed 
from  a  constant  into  a  variable  magnitude.  I  therefore  call  it 
the  variable  p^irt  of  capital,  or,  shortly,  variable  capital.  The 
same  elements  of  capital  which,  from  the  point  of  view  of  the 
labour-process,  present  themselves  respectively  as  the  objective 
and  subjective  factors,  as  means  of  production  and  labour- 
power,  present  themselves,  from  the  point  of  view  of  the  pre 
cess  of  creating  surplus-value,  as  constant  and  variable  capital. 
The  definition  of  constant  capital  given  above  by  no  means 
excludes  the  possibility  of  a  change  of  value  in  its  elements. 
Suppose  the  price  of  cotton  to  be  one  day  sixpence  a  pound, 
and  the  next  day,  in  consequence  of  a  failure  of  the  cotton  crop, 
a  shilling  a  pound.  Each  pound  of  the  cotton  bought  at  six- 
pence, and  worked  up  after  the  rise  in  value,  transfers  to  the 
product  a  value  of  one  shilling;  and  the  cotton  already  spun 
before  the  rise,  and  perhaps  circulating  in  the  markets  as  yarn, 
likewise  transfers  to  the  product  twice  its  original  value.  It 
is  plain,  however,  that  these  changes  of  value  are  independent 
of  the  increment  or  surplus-value  added  to  the  value  of  the 
cotton  by  the  spinning  itself.  If  the  old  cotton  had  never 
been  spun,  it  could,  after  the  rise,  be  resold  at  a  shilling  a 
pound  instead  of  at  sixpence.  Further,  the  fewer  the  processes 
the  cotton  has  gone  through,  the  more  certain  is  this  result. 
We  therefore  find  that  speculators  make  it  a  rule  when  such 
sudden  changes  in  value  occur  to  speculate  in  that  material  on 
which  the  least  possible  quantity  of  labour  has  been  spent:  to 
speculate,  therefore,  in  yarn  rather  than  in  cloth,  in  cotton 
itself,  rather  than  in  yarn.  The  change  of  value  in  the  case  we 
have  been  considering,  originates,  not  in  the  process  in  which 
the  cotton  plays  the  part  of  a  means  of  production,  and  in 
which  it  therefore  functions  as  constant  capital,  but  in  the  pro- 
cess in  which  the  cotton  itself  is  produced.  The  value  of  a 
commodity,  it  is  true,  is  determined  by  the  quantity  of  labour 
contained  in  it,  but  this  quantity  is  itself  limited  by  social  con- 
ditions. If  the  time  socially  necessary  for  the  production  of 
any  commodity  alters — and  a  given  weight  of  cotton  represents, 
after  a  bad  harvest,  more  labour  than  after  a  good  one — all 

234  Capitalist  Production. 

previously  existing  commodities  of  the  same  class  are  affected, 
because  they  are,  as  it  were,  only  individuals  of  the  species,1 
and  their  value  at  any  given  time  is  measured  by  the  labour 
socially  necessary,  i.e.,  by  the  labour  necessary  for  their  pro- 
duction under  the  then  existing  social  conditions. 

As  the  value  of  the  raw  material  may  change,  so,  too,  may 
that  of  the  instruments  of  labour,  of  the  machinery,  &c,  em- 
ployed in  the  process;  and  consequently  that  portion  of  the 
value  of  the  product  transferred  to  it  from  them,  may  also 
change.  If  in  consequence  of  a  new  invention,  machinery  of  a 
particular  kind  can  be  produced  by  a  diminished  expenditure 
of  labour,  the  old  machinery  becomes  depreciated  more  or  less 
and  consequently  transfers  so  much  less  value  to  the  product. 
But  here  again,  the  change  in  value  originates  outside  the 
process  in  which  the  machine  is  acting  as  a  means  of  pro- 
duction. Once  engaged  in  this  process,  the  machine  cannot 
transfer  more  value  than  it  possesses  apart  from  the  process. 

Just  as  a  change  in  the  value  of  the  means  of  production, 
even  after  they  have  commenced  to  take  a  part  in  the  labour 
process,  does  not  alter  their  character  as  constant  capital,  so, 
too,  a  change  in  the  proportion  of  constant  to  variable  capital 
does  not  affect  the  respective  functions  of  these  two  kinds  of 
capital.  The  technical  conditions  of  the  labour  process  may 
be  revolutionised  to  such  an  extent,  that  where  formerly  ten 
men  using  ten  implements  of  small  value  worked  up  a  relative- 
ly small  quantity  of  raw  material,  one  man  may  now,  with  the 
aid  of  one  expensive  machine,  work  up  one  hundred  times  as 
much  raw  material.  In  the  latter  case  we  have  an  enormous 
increase  in  the  constant  capital,  that  is  represented  by  the 
total  value  of  the  means  of  production  used,  and  at  the  same 
time  a  great  reduction  in  the  variable  capital,  invested  in 
labour-power.  Such  a  revolution,  however,  alters  only  the 
quantitave  relation  between  the  constant  and  the  variable  cap- 
ital, or  the  proportions  in  which  the  total  capital  is  split  up 
into  its  constant  and  variable  constituents ;  it  has  not  in  the 
least  degree  affected  the  essential  difference  between  the  two. 

1  "Toutes  les  productions  d'un  meme  genre  ne  forment  proprement  qu'une  masse, 
dont  le  prix  se  determine  en  general  et  sans  egard  aux  circonstances  particulieres." 
(Le  Trosne,   1.  c,  p.   893.) 

The  Rate  of  Surplus-value.  235 



The  surplus-value  generated  in  the  process  of  production  by 
C,  the  capital  advanced,  or  in  other  words,  the  self-expansion 
of  the  value  of  the  capital  C,  presents  itself  for  our  consider- 
ation, in  the  first  place,  as  a  surplus,  as  the  amount  by  which 
the  value  of  the  product  exceeds  the  value  of  its  constituent 

The  capital  C  is  made  up  of  two  components,  one,  the  sum 
of  money  c  laid  out  upon  the  means  of  production,  and  the 
other,  the  sum  of  money  v  expended  upon  the  labour-power; 
c  represents  the  portion  that  has  become  constant  capital,  and 
v  the  portion  that  has  become  variable  capital.  At  first  then, 
C=c-f-v:  for  example,  if  £500  is  the  capital  advanced,  its  com- 
ponents may  be  such  that  the  £500=£±10  const, -f  £90  var. 
When  the  process  of  production  is  finished,  we  get  a  com- 
modity whose  value=(c-j-v)-{-s,  where  s  is  the  surplus-value; 
or  taking  our  former  figures,  the  value  of  trrs  commodity  may 
be  (£410  const, +£90  var.)-|-£90  surpl.  Tho  original  capital 
has  now  changed  from  C  to  C,  from  £r00  to  £590.  The  dif- 
ference is  s  or  a  surplus  value  of  £90.  Since  the  value  of  the 
constituent  elements  of  the  product  is  equal  to  the  value  of 
the  advanced  capital,  it  is  mere  tautology  to  say,  that  the  ex- 
cess of  the  value  of  the  product  over  the  value  of  its  constitu- 
ent elements,  is  equal  to  the  expansion  of  the  capital  advanced 
or  to  the  surplus-value  produced. 

Nevertheless,  we  must  examine  this  tautology  a  little  more 
closely.  The  two  things  compared  are,  the  value  of  the  pro- 
duct, and  the  value  of  its  constituents  consumed  in  the  process 
of  production.  Now  we  have  seen  how  that  portion  of  the 
constant  capital  which  consists  of  the  instruments  of  labour, 
transfers  to  the  product  only  a  fraction  of  its  value,  while  the 
remainder  of  that  value  continues  to  reside  in  those  instru- 

236  Capitalist  Production. 

merits.  Since  this  remainder  plays  no  part  in  the  formation  of 
value,  we  may  at  present  leave  it  on  one  side.  To  introduce  it 
into  the  calculation  would  make  no  difference.  For  instance, 
taking  our  former  example,  c=£410 :  suppose  this  sum  to  con- 
sist of  £312  value  of  raw  material,  £44  value  of  auxiliary 
material,  and  £54  value  of  the  machinery  worn  away  in  the 
process;  and  suppose  that  the  total  value  of  the  machinery 
employed  is  £1,054.  Out  of  this  latter  sum,  then,  we  reckon 
as  advanced  for  the  purpose  of  turning  out  the  product,  the 
sum  of  £54  alone,  which  the  machinery  loses  by  wear  and 
tear  in  the  process ;  for  this  is  all  it  parts  with  to  the  product. 
Now  if  we  also  reckon  the  remaining  £1,000,  which  still  con- 
tinues in  the  machinery,  as  transferred  to  the  product,  we 
ought  also  to  reckon  it  as  part  of  the  value  advanced,  and  thus 
make  it  appear  on  both  sides  of  our  calculation.1  We  should, 
in  this  way,  get  £1,500  on  one  side  and  £1,590  on  the  other. 
The  difference  of  these  two  sums,  or  the  surplus-value,  would 
still  be  £90.  Throughout  this  Book  therefore,  by  constant 
capital  advanced  for  the  production  of  value,  we  always  mean, 
unless  the  context  is  repugnant  thereto,  the  value  of  the  means 
of  production  actually  consumed  in  the  process,  and  that  value 

This  being  so,  let  us  return  to  the  formula  C=c-|-v,  which 
we  saw  transformed  into  C'=(c-|-v)-f-s,  C  becoming  C. 
We  know  that  the  value  of  the  constant  capital  is  trans- 
ferred to,  and  merely  re-appears  in  the  product.  The 
new  value  actually  created  in  the  process,  the  value  pro- 
duced, or  value-product,  is  therefore  not  the  same  as  the  value 
of  the  product;  it  is  not,  as  it  would  at  first  sight  appear 
(c+v)+s  or  £410  const. +£90  var.+£90  surpl. ;  but  v+s 
or  £90  var.+£90  surpl.  not  £590  but  £180.  If  c=o,  or  in 
other  words,  if  there  were  branches  of  industry  in  which  the 
capitalist  could  dispense  with  all  means  of  production  made 
by  previous  labour,  whether  they  be  raw  material,  auxiliary 
material,   or  instruments  of  labour,  employing  only  labour- 

1  "If  we  reckon  the  value  of  the  fixed  capital  employed  as  a  part  of  the  advances, 
we  must  reckon  the  remaining  value  of  such  capital  at  the  end  of  the  year  as  a  part 
of  the  annual  returns."  (Malthus,  "Princ.  of  Pol.  Econ."  2nd  ed.,  Lond.,  1836,  p. 

The  Rate  of  Surplus-value.  237 

power  and  materials  supplied  by  Nature,  in  that  case,  there 
would  be  no  constant  capital  to  transfer  to  the  product.  This 
component  of  the  value  of  the  product,  i.e.,  the  £410  in  our  ex- 
ample, would  be  eliminated,  but  the  sum  of  £180,  the  amount 
of  new  value  created,  or  the  value  produced,  which  contains 
£90  of  surplus-value,  would  remain  just  as  great  as  if  c  repre- 
sented the  highest  value  imaginable.  We  should  have  C= 
(0+v)=v  or  C  the  expanded  capital=v+s  and  therefore 
C — C=s  as  before.  On  the  other  hand,  if  s=0,  or  in  other 
words,  if  the  labour-power,  whose  value  is  advanced  in  the 
form  of  variable  capital;  were  to  produce  only  its  equivalent, 
we  should  have  C=c+v  or  C  the  value  of  the  product= 
(c+v)+0  or  C  =  C.  The  capital  advanced  would,  in  this 
case,  not  have  expanded  its  value. 

From  what  has  gone  before,  we  know  that  surplus-value  is 
purely  the  result  of  a  variation  in  the  value  of  v,  of  that  portion 
of  the  capital  which  is  transformed  into  labour-power ;  con- 
sequently, v+s=v+v/  or  v  plus  an  increment  of  v.  But  the 
fact  that  it  is  v  alone  that  varies,  and  the  conditions  of  that 
variation,  are  obscured  by  the  circumstance  that  in  consequence 
of  the  increase  in  the  variable  component  of  the  capital,  there 
is  also  an  increase  in  the  sum  total  of  the  advanced  capital.  It 
was  originally  £500  and  becomes  £590.  Therefore  in  order 
that  our  investigation  may  lead  to  accurate  results,  we  must 
make  abstraction  from  that  portion  of  the  value  of  the  pro- 
duct, in  which  constant  capital  alone  appears,  and  consequently 
must  equate  the  constant  capital  to  zero  or  make  c=0.  This 
is  merely  an  application  of  a  mathematical  rule,  employed 
whenever  we  operate  with  constant  and  variable  magnitudes, 
related  to  each  other  by  the  symbols  of  addition  and  sub- 
traction only. 

A  further  difficulty  is  caused  by  the  original  form  of  the 
variable  capital.  In  our  example,  C'=£410  const. +£90  var 
+£90  surpl. ;  but  £90  is  a  given  and  therefore  a  constant 
quantity ;  hence  it  appears  absurd  to  treat  it  as  variable.  But 
in  fact,  the  term  £90  var.  is  here  merely  a  symbol  to  show  that 
this  value  undergoes  a  process.  The  portion  of  the  capital  in- 
vested in  the  purchase  of  labour-power  is  a  definite  quantity  of 

238  Capitalist  Production. 

materialised  labour,  a  constant  value  like  the  value  of  the 
labour-power  purchased.  But  in  the  process  of  production  the 
place  of  the  £90  is  taken  by  the  labour-power  in  action,  dead 
labour  is  replaced  by  living  labour,  something  stagnant  by 
something  flowing,  a  constant  by  a  variable.  The  result  is  the 
reproduction  of  v  plus  an  increment  of  v.  From  the  point  of 
view,  then,  of  capitalist  production,  the  whole  process  appears 
as  the  spontaneous  variation  of  the  originally  constant  value, 
which  is  transformed  into  labour-power.  Both  the  process  and 
its  result,  appear  to  be  owing  to  this  value.  If,  therefore,  such 
expressions  as  "£90  variable  capital,"  or  "so  much  self- 
expanding  value,"  appear  contradictory,  this  is  only  because 
they  bring  to  the  surface  a  contradiction  immanent  in  cap- 
italist production. 

At  first  sight  it  appears  a  strange  proceeding,  to  equate  the 
constant  capital  to  zero.  Yet  it  is  what  we  do  every  day.  If, 
for  example,  we  wish  to  calculate  the  amount  of  England's 
profits  from  the  cotton  industry,  we  first  of  all  deduct  the  sums 
paid  for  cotton  to  the  United  States,  India,  Egypt  and  other 
countries ;  in  other  words,  the  value  of  the  capital  that  merely 
re-appears  in  the  value  of  the  product,  is  put=0. 

Of  course  the  ratio  of  surplus-value  not  only  to  that  portion 
of  the  capital  from  which  it  immediately  springs,  and  whose 
change  of  value  it  represents,  but  also  to  the  sum  total  of  the 
capital  advanced  is  economically  of  very  great  importance. 
We  shall,  therefore,  in  the  third  book,  treat  of  this  ratio  ex- 
haustively. In  order  to  enable  one  portion  of  a  capital  to  ex- 
pand its  value  by  being  converted  into  labour-power,  it  is 
necessary  that  another  portion  be  converted  into  means  of  pro- 
duction. In  order  that  variable  capital  may  perform  its  func- 
tion, constant  capital  must  be  advanced  in  proper  proportion, 
a  proportion  given  by  the  special  technical  conditions  of  each 
labour-process.  The  circumstance,  however,  that  retorts  and 
other  vessels,  are  necessary  to  a  chemical  process,  does  not 
compel  the  chemist  to  notice  them  in  the  result  of  his  analysis. 
If  we  look  at  the  means  of  production,  in  their  relation  to  the 
creation  of  value,  and  to  the  variation  in  the  quantity  of  value, 
apart  from  anything  else,  they  appear  simply  as  the  material 

The  Rate  of  Surplus-value.  239 

in  which  labour-power,  the  value-creator,  incorporates  itself. 
Neither  the  nature,  nor  the  value  of  this  material  is  of  any 
importance.  The  only  requisite  is  that  there  be  a  sufficient 
supply  to  absorb  the  labour  expended  in  the  process  of  pro- 
duction. That  supply  once  given,  the  material  may  rise  or 
fall  in  value,  or  even  be,  as  land  and  the  sea,  without  any  value 
in  itself ;  but  this  will  have  no  influence  on  the  creation  of  value 
or  on  the  variation  in  the  quantity  of  value.1 

In  the  first  place  then  we  equate  the  constant  capital  to  zero. 
The  capital  advanced  is  consequently  reduced  from  c+v  to  v, 
and  instead  of  the  value  of  the  product  (c+v)  -j-s  we  have  now 
the  value  produced  (v-j-s).  Given  the  new  value  produced= 
£180,  which  sum  consequently  represents  the  whole  labour  ex- 
pended during  the  process,  then  subtracting  from  it  £90  the 
value  of  the  variable  capital,  we  have  remaining  £90,  the 
amount  of  the  surplus-value.  This  sum  of  £90  or  s  expresses 
the  absolute  quantity  of  surplus-value  produced.  The  relative 
quantity  produced,  or  the  increase  per  cent  of  the  variable 
capital,  is  determined,  it  is  plain,  by  the  ratio  of  the  surplus- 
value  to  the  variable  capital,  or  is  expressed  by  f  .  In  our 
example  this  ratio  is  f$ ,  which  gives  an  increase  of  100%. 
This  relative  increase  in  the  value  of  the  variable  capital,  or 
the  relative  magnitude  of  the  surplus-value,  I  call,  "The  rate 
of  surplus-value."  2 

We  have  seen  that  the  labourer,  during  one  portion  of  the 
labour-process,  produces  only  the  value  of  his  labour-power, 
that  is,  the  value  of  his  means  of  subsistence.  Now  since  his 
work  forms  part  of  a  system,  based  on  the  social  division  of 
labour,  he  does  not  directly  produce  the  actual  necessaries 
which  he  himself  consumes ;  he  produces  instead  a  particular 
commodity,  yarn  for  example,  whose  value  is  equal  to  the 
value  of  those  necessaries  or  of  the  money  with  which  they 

*What  Lucretius  says  is  self-evident;  "nit  pobse  creari  de  nihilo,"  out  of  nothing', 
nothing  can  be  created.  Creation  of  valu?  is  transformation  of  labour-power  into 
labour.  Labour-power  itself  is  energy  transferred  to  a  human  organism  by  means  of 
nourishing  matter. 

*  In  the  same  way  that  the  English  use  the  terms  "rate  of  profit,"  "rate  of  in- 
terest." We  shall  see,  in  Book  III.,  that  the  rate  of  ;  rofit  is  no  mystery,  so  soon 
as  we  know  the  laws  of  surplus-value.  If  we  reverse  the  process,  we  cannot  com- 
prehend either  the  one  or  the  other. 

240  Capitalist  Production. 

can  be  bought.  The  portion  of  his  day's  labour  devoted  to 
this  purpose,  will  be  greater  or  less,  in  proportion  to  the  value 
of  the  necessaries  that  he  daily  requires  on  an  average,  or, 
what  amounts  to  the  same  thing,  in  proportion  to  the  labour- 
time  required  on  an  average  to  produce  them.  If  the  value 
of  those  necessaries  represents  on  an  average  the  expenditure 
of  six  hours'  labour,  the  workman  must  on  an  average  work 
for  six  hours  to  produce  that  value.  If  instead  of  working  for 
the  capitalist,  he  worked  independently  on  his  own  account,  he 
would,  other  things  being  equal,  still  be  obliged  to  labour  for 
the  same  number  of  hours,  in  order  to  produce  the  value  of  his 
labour-power,  and  thereby  to  gain  the  means  of  subsistence 
necessary  for  his  conservation  or  continued  reproduction.  But 
as  we  have  seen,  during  that  portion  of  his  day's  labour  in 
which  he  produces  the  value  of  his  labour-power,  say  three 
shillings,  he  produces  only  an  equivalent  for  the  value  of  his 
labour-power  already  advanced  by  the  capitalist;  the  new 
value  created  only  replaces  the  variable  capital  advanced.  It 
is  owing  to  this  fact,  that  the  production  of  the  new  value  of 
three  shillings  takes  the  semblance  of  a  mere  reproduction. 
That  portion  of  the  working  day,  then,  during  which  this  re- 
production takes  place,  I  call  "necessary"  labour-time,  and  the 
labour  expended  during  that  time  I  call  "necessary"  labour.1 
Necessary,  as  regards  the  labourer,  because  independent  of  the 
particular  social  form  of  his  labour;  necessary,  as  regards 
capital,  and  the  world  of  capitalists,  because  on  the  continued 
existence  of  the  labourer  depends  their  existence  also. 

During  the  second  period  of  the  labour-process,  that  in 
which  his  labour  is  no  longer  necessary  labour,  the  workman, 
it  is  true,  labours,  expends  labour-power ;  but  his  labour,  being 
no  longer  necessary  labour,  he  creates  no  value  for  himself. 
He  creates  surplus-value  which,  for  the  capitalist,  has  all  the 
charms  of  a  creation  out  of  nothing.     This  portion  of  the 

1  In  this  work,  we  have,  up  to  now,  employe  1  the  term  "necessary  labour-time," 
to  designate  the  time  i  :cessary  under  given  social  conditions  for  the  production  of 
any  commodity.  Henceforward  we  use  it  to  desi/nate  also  the  time  necessary  for 
the  production  of  the  p*  cular  commodity  labour-power.  The  use  of  one  and  the 
same  technical  term  in  different  senses  is  inconvenient,  but  in  no  science  can  it  be 
altogether  avoided.  Compare,  for  instance,  the  higher  with  the  lower  branches  of 

The  Rate  of  Surplus-value.  241 

working  day,  I  name  surplus  labour-time,  and  to  the  labour 
expended  during  that  time,  I  give  the  name  of  surplus-labour. 
It  is  every  bit  as  important,  for  a  correct  understanding  of 
surplus-value,  to  conceive  it  as  a  mere  congelation  of  surplus- 
labour-time,  as  nothing  but  materialised  surplus-labour,  as  it 
is,  for  a  proper  comprehension  of  value,  to  conceive  it  as  a  mere 
congelation  of  so  many  hours  of  labour,  as  nothing  but  ma- 
terialised labour.  The  essential  difference  between  the  various 
economic  forms  of  society,  between,  for  instance,  a  society 
based  on  slave  labour,  and  one  based  on  wage  labour,  lies  only 
in  the  mode  in  which  this  surplus-labour  is  in  each  case  ex- 
tracted from  the  actual  producer,  the  labourer.1 

Since,  on  the  one  hand,  the  values  of  the  variable  capital 
and  of  the  labour-power  purchased  by  that  capital  are  equal, 
and  the  value  of  this  labour-power  determines  the  necessary 
portion  of  the  working  day ;  and  since,  on  the  other  hand,  the 
surplus-value  is  determined  by  the  surplus  portion  of  the 
working  day,  it  follows  that  surplus-value  bears  the  same  ratio 
to  variable  capital,  that  surplus-labour  does  to  necessary  labour, 

,-,  1         ,-.  ,  «  ,  t  s  surplus  labor 

or  in  other  words,  the  rate  01  surplus-value  —  =  -necessary  labor 
Both  ratios,  -7  and  necIssarykbor'  ©xpress  the  same  thing  in  differ- 
ent ways;  in  the  one  case  by  reference  to  materialised,  incor- 
porated labour,  in  the  other  by  reference  to  living,  fluent 

The  rate  of  surplus-value  is  therefore  an  exact  expression 
for  the  degree  of  exploitation  of  labour-power  by  capital,  or  of 
the  labourer  by  the  capitalist.2 

1  Herr  Wilhelm  Thucydides  Roscher  has  found  a  mare's  nest.  He  has  made  the 
important  discovery  that  if,  on  the  one  hand,  the  formation  of  surplus-value,  or 
surplus-produce,  and  the  consequent  accumulation  of  capital,  is  now-a-days  due  to 
the  thrift  of  the  capitalist,  on  the  other  hand,  in  the  lowest  stages  of  civilisation  it 
is  the  strong  who  compel  the  weak  to  economise  (1.  c.  p.  78).  To  economise  what? 
Labour?  Or  superfluous  wealth  that  does  not  exist?  What  is  it  that  makes  such 
men  as  Roscher  account  for  the  origin  of  surplus-value,  by  a  mere  rechauffe  of  the 
more  or  less  plausible  excuses  by  the  capitalist,  for  his  appropriation  of  surplus- 
value?  It  is,  besides  their  real  ignorance,  their  apologetic  dread  of  a  scientific 
analysis  of  value  and  surplus-value,  and  of  obtaining  a  result,  possibly  not  alto- 
gether palatable  to  the  powers  that  be. 

2  Although  the  rate  of  surplus-value  is  an  exact  expression  for  the  degree  of  ex- 
ploitation of  labour-power,  it  is,  in  no  sense,  an  expression  for  the  absolute  amount 
of  exploitation.  For  example,  if  the  necessary  labour=5  hours  and  the  surplus-la- 
bour=5  hours,   the   degree   of  exploitation  is  100%.     The  amount   of  exploitation  it 


242  Capitalist  Production. 

We  assumed  in  our  example,  that  the  value  of  the  product 
=£410  const. +£90  var.-f-£90  surpl.,  and  that  the  capital 
advanced=£500.  Since  the  surplus-value=£90,  and  the  ad- 
vanced capital=£500,  we  should,  according  to  the  usual  way 
of  reckoning,  get  as  the  rate  of  surplus  value  (generally  con- 
founded with  rate  of  profits)  18%,  a  rate  so  low  as  possibly 
to  cause  a  pleasant  surprise  to  Mr.  Carey  and  other  harmon- 
isers.  But  in  truth,  the  rate  of  surplus-value  is  not  equal 
to  <|  orc^-vbut  to  -7-:  thus  it  is  not  -£-0%  but  f-f  or  100%,  which 
is  more  than  five  times  the  apparent  degree  of  exploitation. 
Although,  in  the  case  we  have  supposed,  we  are  ignorant  of 
the  actual  length  of  the  working  day,  and  of  the  duration  in 
days  or  weeks  of  the  labour-process,  as  also  of  the  number  of 
labourers  employed,  yet  the  rate  of  surplus-value  —  accurately 

ti  .  1  ,...  «-i,  •  surplus  labor 

discloses  to  us,  by  means  of  its  equivalent  expression,  necessary  labor 
the  relation  between  the  two  parts  of  the  working  day.  This 
relation  is  here  one  of  equality,  the  rate  being  100%.  Hence, 
it  is  plain,  the  labourer,  in  our  example,  works  one  half  of  the 
day  for  himself,  the  other  half  for  the  capitalist. 

The  method  of  calculating  the  rate  of  surplus  value  is  there- 
fore, shortly,  as  follows.  We  take  the  total  value  of  the  pro- 
duct and  put  the  constant  capital  which  merely  re-appears  in  it, 
equal  to  zero.  What  remains;  is  the  only  value  that  has,  in 
the  process  of  producing  the  commodity,  been  actually  created. 
If  the  amount  of  surplus-value  be  given,  we  have  only  to  deduct 
it  from  this  remainder,  to  find  the  variable  capital.  And  vice 
versa,  if  the  latter  be  given,  and  we  require  to  find  the  surplus- 
value.  If  both  be  given,  we  have  only  to  perform  the  conclud- 
ing operation,  viz.,  to  calculate  —  ,  the  ratio  of  the  surplus- 
value  to  the  variable  capital. 

Though  the  method  is  so  simple,  yet  it  may  not  be  amiss,  by 
means  of  a  few  examples,  to  exercise  the  reader  in  the  applica- 
tion of  the  novel  principles  underlying  it. 

First  we  will  take  the  case  of  a  spinning  mill  containing 

here  measured  by  5  hours.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  the  necessary  labour=6  hours 
and  the  surplus-labour=6  hours,  the  degree  of  exploitation  remains,  as  before, 
100%,  while  the  actual  amount  of  exploitation  has  increased  20%,  namely  from  five 
hours  to  six. 

The  Rate  of  Surplus-value.  243 

10,000  mule  spindles,  spinning  No.  32  yarn  from  American 
cotton,  and  producing  1  lb.  of  yarn  weekly  per  spindle.  We 
assume  the  waste  to  be  6%  :  under  these  circumstances  10,600 
lbs.  of  cotton  are  consumed  weekly,  of  which  600  lbs.  go  to 
waste.  The  price  of  the  cotton  in  April,  1871,  was  7f  d.  per 
lb. ;  the  raw  material  therefore  costs  in  round  numbers  £342. 
The  10,000  spindles,  including  preparation-machinery,  and 
motive  power,  cost,  Ave  will  assume,  £1  per  spindle,  amounting 
to  a  total  of  £10,000.  The  wear  and  tear  we  put  at  10%,  or 
£1000  yearly=£20  weekly.  The  rent  of  the  building  we 
suppose  to  be  £300  a  year  or  £6  a  week.  Coal  consumed  (for 
100  horse-power  indicated,  at  4  lbs.  of  coal  per  horse-power  per 
hour  during  60  hours,  and  inclusive  of  that  consumed  in  heat- 
ing the  mill),  11  tons  a  week  at  8s.  6d.  a  ton,  amounts  to 
about  £4^  a  week :  gas,  £1  a  week,  oil,  &c,  £4^  a  week.  Total 
cost  of  the  above  auxiliary  materials,  £10  weekly.  Therefore 
the  constant  portion  of  the  value  of  the  week's  product  is  £378. 
Wages  amount  to  £52  a  week.  The  price  of  the  yarn  is  12^. 
per  lb.,  which  gives  for  the  value  of  10,000  lbs.  the  sum  of 
£510.  The  surplus  value  is  therefore  in  this  case  £510 — 
£430 =£80.  We  put  the  constant  part  of  the  value  of  the 
product =0,  as  it  plays  no  part  in  the  creation  of  value.  There 
remains  £132  as  the  weekly  value  created,  which =£52  var.-(- 
£80  surpl.  The  rate  of  surplus-vt  ue  is  therefore  ff-  = 
153y3-%.     In  a  working  day  of        hours  with  average  labour 

the  result  is:  necessary  labour =3f^-hours  and  surplus-labour 
a  2    1 

—  O-gT- 

One  more  example.  Jacob  gives  he  following  calc,  tion 
for  the  year  1815.  Owing  to  the  previous  adjustment  of  sev- 
eral items  it  is  very  imperfect ;  nevertheless  for  our  purpose  it 
is  sufficient.  In  it  he  assumes  the  price  of  wheat  to  be  8s.  a 
quarter,  and  the  average  yield  per  acre  to  be  22  bushels. 

1  The  above  data,  which  may  be  relied  upon,  were  given  me  by  a  Manchester  spin- 
ner. In  England  the  horse-power  of  an  engine  was  formerly  calculated  from  the 
diameter  of  its  cylinder,  now  the  actual  horse-oower  shown  by  the  indicator  is  taken. 

244  Capitalist  Production. 

Value  Produced  Per  Acre. 

Seed, £1       9       0 

Manure,  2     10       0 

Wages, 3     10       0 

Total,   . .    £7       9       0 

Tithes,  Rates, 

and  Taxes,  . .   £1      1      0 
Rent, 1       8       0 

Farmer's  Profit 

and  Interest,  .12       0 

Total,   ..    £3     11      0 

Assuming  that  the  price  of  the  product  is  the  same  as  its 
value,  we  here  find  the  surplus-value  distributed  under  the 
various  heads  of  profit,  interest,  rent,  etc.  We  have  nothing 
to  do  with  these  in  detail ;  we  simply  add  them  together,  and 
the  sum  is  a  surplus-value  of  £3  lis.  Od.  The  sum  of  £3 
19s.  Od.,  paid  for  seed  and  manure,  is  constant  capital,  and  we 
put  it  equal  to  zero.  There  is  left  the  sum  of  £3  10s.  Od., 
which  is  the  variable  capital  advanced :  and  we  see  that  a  new 
value  of  £3  10s.  0d.+£3  lis.  Od.  has  been  produced  in  its 
place.  Therefore  —•  =  j*  }**•  %j'  ,  giving  a  rate  of  surplus- 
value  of  more  than  100%.  The  labourer  employs  more  than 
one-half  of  his  working  day  in  producing  the  surplus-value, 
which  different  persons,  under  different  pretexts,  share 
amongst  themselves.1 



Let  us  now  return  to  the  example  by  which  we  were  shown 
how  the  capitalist  converts  money  into  capital. 

The  product  of  a  working  day  of  12  hours  is  20  lbs.  of 
yarn,  having  a  value  of  30s.  No  less  than  -^-ths  of  this  value, 
or  24s.,  is  due  to  mere  re-appearance  in  it,  of  the  value  of  the 

1  The  calculations  given  in  the  test  are  intended  merely  as  illustrations.  We  hare 
in  fact  assumed  that  prices  rvalues.  We  shall,  however,  see  in  Volume  III.,  that 
even  in  the  case  of  average  prices  the  assumption  cannot  be  made  in  this  very  sim- 
ple manner. 

The  Rate  of  Surplus-value.  245 

means  of  production  (20  lbs.  of  cotton,  value  20s.,  and  spindle 
worn  away,  4s.)  :  it  is  therefore  constant  capital.  The  re- 
maining y§  ths  or  6s.  is  the  new  value  created  during  the  spin- 
ning process :  of  this  one  half  replaces  the  value  of  the  day's 
labour-power,  or  the  variable  capital,  the  remaining  half  con- 
stitutes a  surplus-value  of  3s.  The  total  value  then  of  the  20 
lbs.  of  yarn  is  made  up  as  follows : 

30s.  value  of  yarn=24  const.--}- 3s.  var.+3s.  surpl. 

Since  the  whole  of  the  value  is  contained  in  the  20  lbs.  of 
yarn  produced,  it  follows  that  the  various  component  parts  of 
this  value,  can  be  represented  as  being  contained  respectively 
in  corresponding  parts  of  the  product. 

If  the  value  of  30s.  is  contained  in  20  lbs.  of  yarn,  then 
^5- ths  of  this  value,  or  the  24s.  that  form  its  constant  part,  is 
contained  in  -j^ths  of  the  product  or  in  16  lbs.  of  yarn.  Of 
the  latter  13^  lbs.  represent  the  value  of  the  raw  material,  the 
20s.  worth  of  cotton  spun,  and  2f  lbs.  represent  the  4s.  worth 
of  spindle,  &c,  worn  away  in  the  process. 

Hence  the  whole  of  the  cotton  used  up  in  spinning  the  20 
lbs.  of  yarn,  is  represented  by  13^  lbs.  of  yarn.  This  latter 
weight  of  yarn  contains,  it  is  true,  by  weight,  no  more  than  13^ 
lbs.  of  cotton,  worth  13^  shillings;  but  the  6f  shillings  ad- 
ditional value  contained  in  it,  are  the  equivalent  for  the  cotton 
consumed  in  spinning  the  remaining  6f  lbs.  of  yarn.  The 
effect  is  the  same  as  if  these  6f  lbs.  of  yarn  contained  no  cot- 
ton at  all,  and  the  whole  20  lbs.  of  cotton  were  concentrated  in 
the  13^  lbs.  of  yarn.  The  latter  weight,  on  the  other  hand, 
does  not  contain  an  atom  either  of  the  value  of  the  auxiliary 
materials  and  implements,  or  of  the  value  newly  created  in  the 

In  the  same  way,  the  2f  lbs.  of  yarn,  in  which  the  4s.,  the 
remainder  of  the  constant  capital,  is  embodied,  represents 
nothing  but  the  value  of  the .  auxiliary  materials  and  instru- 
ments of  labour  consumed  in  producing  the  20  lbs.  of  yarn. 

We  have,  therefore,  arrived  at  this  result:  although  eight- 
tenths  of  the  product,  or  16  lbs.  of  yarn,  is,  in  its  character  of 
an  article  of  utility,  just  as  much  the  fabric  of  the  spinner's 
labour,  as  the  remainder  of  the  same  product,  yet  when  viewed 

246  Capitalist  Production. 

in  this  connexion,  it  does  not  contain,  and  has  not  absorbed  any 
labour  expended  during  the  process  of  spinning.  It  is  just  as 
if  the  cotton  had  converted  itself  into  yarn,  without  help ;  as 
if  the  shape  it  had  assumed  was  mere  trickery  and  deceit: 
for  so  soon  as  our  capitalist  sells  it  for  24s.,  and  with  the  money 
replaces  his  means  of  production,  it  becomes  evident  that  this 
16  lbs.  of  yarn  is  nothing  more  than  so  much  cotton  and  spindle- 
waste  in  disguise. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  remaining  i^-ths  of  the  product,  or  4 
lbs.  of  yarn,  represent  nothing  but  the  new  value  of  6s.,  created 
during  the  12  hours'  spinning  process.  All  the  value  trans- 
ferred to  those  4  lbs.,  from  the  raw  material  and  instruments 
of  labour  consumed,  was,  so  to  say,  intercepted  in  order  to  bo 
incorporated  in  the  16  lbs.  first  spun.  In  this  case,  it  is  as  if 
the  spinner  had  spun  4  lbs.  of  ~arn  out  of  air,  or,  as  if  he  had 
spun  them  with  the  aid  of  cotton  and  spindles,  that,  being  the 
spontaneous  gift  of  Nature,  transferred  no  value  to  the  product. 

Of  this  4  lbs.  of  yarn,  in  which  the  whole  of  the  value  newly 
created  during  the  process,  is  condensed,  one  half  represents 
the  equivalent  for  the  value  of  the  labour  consumed,  or  the  3s. 
variable  capital,  the  other  half  represents  the  3s.  surplus-value. 

Since  12  working  hours  of  the  spinner  are  embodied  in  6s., 
it  follows  that  in  yarn  of  the  value  of  30s.,  there  must  be  em- 
bodied 60  working  hours.  And  this  quantity  of  labour-time 
does  in  fact  exist  in  the  20  lbs.  of  yarn ;  for  in  r8Q-ths  or  16  lbs. 
there  are  materialised  the  48  hours  of  labour  expended,  before 
the  commencement  of  the  spinning  process,  on  the  means  of 
production ;  and  in  the  remaining  yo  ths  or  4  lbs.  there  are 
materialised  the  12  hours'  work  done  during  the  process  itself. 

On  a  former  page  we  saw  that  the  value  of  the  yarn  is  equal 
to  the  sum  of  the  new  value  created  during  the  production  of 
that  yarn  plus  the  value  previously  existing  in  the  means  of 

It  has  now  been  shown  how  the  various  component  parts  of 
the  value  of  the  product,  parts  that  differ  functionally  from 
each  other,  may  be  represented  by  corresponding  proportional 
parts  of  the  product  itself. 

To  split  up  in  this  manner  the  product  into  different  parts, 

The  Rate  of  Surplus-value.  247 

of  which  one  represents  only  the  labour  previously  spent  on 
the  means  of  production,  or  the  constant  capital,  another,  only 
the  necessary  labour  spent  during  the  process  of  production,  or 
the  variable  capital,  and  another  and  last  part,  only  the  surplus- 
labour  expended  during  the  same  process,  or  the  surplus-value ; 
to  do  this,  is,  as  will  be  seen  later  on  from  its  application  to 
complicated  and  hitherto  unsolved  problems,  no  less  important 
than  it  is  simple. 

In  the  preceding  investigation  we  have  treated  the  total 
product  as  the  final  result,  ready  for  use,  of  a  working  day  of 
12  hours.  We  can  however  follow  this  total  product  through 
all  the  stages  of  its  production ;  and  in  this  way  we  shall 
arrive  at  the  same  result  as  before,  if  we  represent  the  partial 
products,  given  off  at  the  different  stages,  as  functionally 
different  parts  of  the  final  or  total  product. 

The  spinner  produces  in  12  hours  20  lbs.  of  yarn,  or  in  1 
hour  If  lbs. ;  consequently  he  produces  in  8  hours  13-J  lbs.,  or 
a  partial  product  equal  in  value  to  all  the  cotton  that  is  spun 
in  a  whole  day.  In  like  manner  the  partial  product  of  the 
next  period  of  1  hour  and  36  minutes,  is  2f  lbs.  of  yarn:  this 
represents  the  value  of  the  instruments  of  labour  that  are  con- 
sumed in  12  hours.  In  the  following  hour  and  12  minutes, 
the  spinner  produces  2  lbs.  of  yarn  worth  3  shillings,  a  value 
equal  to  the  whole  value  he  creates  in  his  6  hours  necessary 
labour.  Finally,  in  the  last  hour  and  12  minutes  he  produces 
another  2  lbs.  of  yarn,  whose  value  is  equal  to  the  surplus- 
value,  created  by  his  surplus-labour  during  half  a  day.  This 
method  of  calculation  serves  the  English  manufacturer  for 
everyday  use ;  it  shows,  he  will  say,  that  in  the  first  8  hours, 
or  §  of  the  working  day,  he  gets  back  the  value  of  his  cotton ; 
and  so  on  for  the  remaining  hours.  It  is  also  a  perfectly 
correct  method :  being  in  fact  the  first  method  given  above 
with  this  difference,  that  instead  of  being  applied  to  space,  in 
which  the  different  parts  of  the  completed  product  lie  side  by 
side,  it  deals  with  time,  in  which  those  parts  are  successively 
produced.  But  it  can  also  be  accompanied  by  very  barbarian 
notions,  more  especially  in  the  heads  of  those  who  are  as  much 
interested,  practically,  in  the  process  of  making  value  beget 

248  Capitalist  Production. 

value,  as  they  are  in  misunderstanding  that  process  theoreti- 
cally. Such  people  may  get  the  notion  into  their  heads,  that 
one  spinner,  for  example,  produces  or  replaces  in  the  first  8 
hours  of  his  working  day  the  value  of  the  cotton ;  in  the 
following  hour  and  36  minutes  the  value  of  the  instruments  of 
labour  worn  away;  in  the  next  hour  and  12  minutes  the  value 
of  the  wages ;  and  that  he  devotes  to  the  production  of  surplus- 
value  for  the  manufacturer,  only  that  well  known  "last  hour." 
In  this  way  the  poor  spinner  is  made  to  perform  the  two-fold 
miracle  not  only  of  producing  cotton,  spindles,  steam-engine, 
coal,  oil,  &c,  at  the  same  time  that  he  spins  with  them,  but 
also  of  turning  one  working  day  into  five ;  for  in,  the  example 
we  are  considering,  the  production  of  the  raw  material  and  in- 
struments of  labour  demands  four  working  days  of  twelve 
hours  each,  and  their  conversion  into  yarn  requires  another 
such  day.  That  the  love  of  lucre  induces  an  easy  belief  in 
such  miracles,  and  that  sycophant  doctrinaires  are  never 
wanting  to  prove  them,  is  vouched  for  by  the  following  inci- 
dent of  historical  celebrity. 


One  fine  morning,  in  the  year  1836,  Nassau  W.  Senior,  who 
may  be  called  the  bel-esprit  of  English  economists,  well  known, 
alike  for  his  economical  "science,"  and  for  his  beautiful  style, 
was  summoned  from  Oxford  to  Manchester,  to  learn  in  the 
latter  place  the  political  economy  that  he  taught  in  the  former. 
The  manufacturers  elected  him  as  their  champion,  not  only 
against  the  newly  passed  Factory  Act,  but  against  the  still 
more  menacing  Ten-hours'  agitation.  With  their  usual  prac- 
tical acuteness,  they  had  found  out  that  the  learned  Professor 
"wanted  a  good  deal  of  finishing;"  it  was  this  discovery  that 
caused  them  to  write  for  him.  On  his  side  the  Professor  has 
embodied  the  lecture  he  received  from  the  Manchester  manu- 
facturers, in  a  pamphlet,  entitled:  "Letters  on  the  Factory 
Act,  as  it  affects  the  cotton  manufacture."  London,  1837. 
Here  we  find,  amongst  others,  the  following  edifying  passage: 
"Under  the  present  law,  no  mill  in  which  persons  under  18 
years  of  age   are  employed, can  be  worked 

The  Rate  of  Surplus-value.  249 

more  than  1H  hours  a  day,  that  is  12  hours  for  5  days  in  the 
week,  and  nine  on  Saturday. 

"Now  the  following  analysis  (  !)  will  show  that  in  a  mill  so 
worked,  the  whole  net  profit  is  derived  from  the  last  hour.  I 
will  suppose  a  manufacturer  to  invest  £100,000 : — £80,000  in 
his  mill  and  machinery,  and  £20,000  in  raw  material  and 
wages.  The  annual  return  of  that  mill,  supposing  the  capital 
to  be  turned  once  a  year,  and  gross  profits  to  be  15  per  cent., 

ought  to  be  goods  worth  £115,000 Of  this 

£115,000,  each  of  the  twenty-three  half-hours  of  work  pro- 
duces 5-115ths  or  one  twenty-third.  Of  these  23-23rds  (con- 
stituting the  whole  £115,000)  twenty,  that  is  to  say  £100,000 
out  of  the  £115,000,  simply  replace  the  capital; — one  twenty- 
third  (or  £5000  out  of  the  £115,000)  makes  up  for  the  de- 
terioration of  the  mill  and  machinery.  The  remaining 
2-23rds,  that  is,  the  last  two  of  the  twenty- three  half -hours  of 
every  day,  produce  the  net  profit  of  10  per  cent.  If,  there- 
fore (prices  remaining  the  same),  the  factory  could  be  kept  at 
work  thirteen  hours  instead  of  eleven  and  a  half,  with  an 
addition  of  about  £2600  to  the  circulating  capital,  the  net 
profit  would  be  more  than  doubled.  On  the  other  hand,  if  the 
hours  of  working  were  reduced  by  one  hour  per  day  (prices 
remaining  the  same),  the  net  profit  would  be  destroyed — if 
they  were  reduced  by  one  hour  and  a  half,  even  the  gross  profit 
would  be  destroyed."1 

1  Senior,  1.  c,  p.  12,  13.  We  let  pass  such  extraordinary  notions  as  are  of  no  im- 
portance for  our  purpose;  for  instance,  the  assertion,  that  manufacturers  reckon  as 
part  of  their  profit,  gross  or  net,  the  amount  required  to  make  good  wear  and  tear  of 
machinery,  or  in  other  words,  to  replace  a  part  of  the  capital.  So,  too,  we  pass  over 
any  question  as  to  the  accuracy  of  his  figures.  Leonard  Horner  has  shown  in  "A 
Letter  to  Mr.  Senior,"  &c,  London,  1837,  that  they  are  worth  no  more  than  the  so- 
called  "Analysis."  Leonard  Horner  was  one  of  the  Factory  Inquiry  Commissioners 
in  1833,  and  Inspector,  or  rather  Censor  of  Factories  till  1859.  He  rendered  undy- 
ing service  to  the  English  working  class.  He  carried  on  a  life-long  contest,  not 
only  with  the  embittered  manufacturers,  but  also  with  the  Cabinet,  to  whom  the 
number  of  votes  given  by  the  masters  in  the  Lower  House,  was  a  matter  of  far 
greater  importance  than  the  number  of  hours  worked  by  the  "hands"  in  the  mills. 

Apart  from  errors  in  principle,  Senior's  statement  is  confused.  What  he  really 
intended  to  say  was  this:  The  manufacturer  employs  the  workman  for  11  yi  hours 
or  for  23  half-hours  daily.  As  the  working  day,  so,  too,  the  working  year,  may  be 
conceived  to  consist  of  11  yi  hours  or  23  half-hours,  but  each  multiplied  by  the 
number  of  working  days  in  the  year.  On  this  supposition,  the  23  half-hours  yield 
an  annual  product  of  £115,000;  one  half-hour  yields^  X  £115,000;  20  half-hours 
yield  ||  X  £115,000;   =£100,000,    i.e.,    they    replace   no    more   than   the   capital    ad- 

250  Capitalist  Production. 

And  the  professor  calls  this  an  "analysis!"  If,  giving 
credence  to  the  out-cries  of  the  manufacturers,  he  believed  that 
the  workmen  spend  the  best  part  of  the  day  in  the  production, 
i.  e.,  the  reproduction  or  replacement  of  the  value  of  the  build- 
ings, machinery,  cotton,  coal,  &c,  then  his  analysis  was  super- 
fluous. His  answer  would  simply  have  been : — Gentlemen ! 
if  you  work  your  mills  for  10  hours  instead  of  114,  then,  other 
things  being  v,  ma.  the  uaily  consumption  of  cotton,  machinery, 
&c,  will  decrease  in  proportion.  You  gain  just  as  much  as 
you  lose.  Your  work-people  will  in  future  spend  one  hour 
and  a  half  less  time  in  producing  or  replacing  the  capital 
that  has  been  advanced. — If,  on  \,he  other  hand,  he  did  not 
believe  them  without  further  inquiry,  but,  as  being  an  expert 
in  such  matters,  deemed  an  inaly  Is  necessary,  then  he  ought, 
in  a  question  that  is  concerned  exclusively  with  the  relations 
of  net  profit  to  the  length  of  the  working  day,  before  all  things 
to  have  asked  the  manufacturers,  10  be  careful  not  to  lump 
together  machinery,  workshops,  raw  material,  and  labour,  ,ut 
to  be  good  enough  to  place  the  constant  capital,  invested  in 
buildings,  machinery,  raw  material,  &c,  on  one  ide  of  the 
account,  and  the  capital  advanced  in  wages  on  the  other  side. 
If  the  professor  then  found,  that  in  accordance  with  the  calcu- 
lation of  the  manufacturers,  the  workman  reproduced  or  re- 
placed his  wages  in  2  half-hours,  in  that  case,  he  should  have 
continued  his  analysis  thus : 

According  to  your  figures,  the  workman  in  the  last  hour  but 
one  produces  his  wages,  and  in  the  last  hour  your  surplus- 
value  or  net  profit.  Xow,  since  in  equal  periods  he  produces 
equal  values,  the  produce  of  the  last  hour  but  one,  must  have 
the  same  value  as  that  of  the  last  hour.  Further,  it  is  only 
while  he  labours  that  he  produces  any  value  at  all,  and  the 
amount  of  his  labour  is  measured  by  his  labour-time.  This 
you  say,  amounts  to  114  hours  a  day.  He  employs  one  portion 
of  these  11^  hours,  in  producing  or  replacing  his  wages,  and 

vanced.  There  remain  3  half-hours,  which  yield  -^  X  £115,000=  £15,000  or  the 
gross  profit.  Of  these  3  half-hours,  one  yields  ^X  £115,000=  £5000;  I  e.,  it 
makes  up  for  the  wear  and  tear  of  the  machinery;  the  remaining  2  half-hours,  i.e., 
the  last  hour,  yield  ^  x  £115,000=  £10,000  or  the  net  profit.  In  the  text  Senior 
converts  the  last  JL  of  the  product  into  portions  of  the  working  day  itself. 

The  Rate  of  Surplus-value.  25 1 

the  remaining  portion  in  producing  your  net  profit.  Beyond 
this  he  does  absolutely  nothing.  But  since,  on  your  assump- 
tion, his  wages,  and  the  surplus-value  he  yields,  are  of  equal 
value,  it  is  clear  that  he  produces  his  wages  in  5f  hours,  and 
your  net  profit  in  the  other  5f  hours.  Again,  since  the  value 
of  the  yarn  produced  in  2  hours,  is  equal  to  the  sum  of  the 
values  of  his  wages  and  of  your  net  profit,  the  measure  of  the 
value  of  this  yarn  must  be  11^  working  hours,  of  which  5f 
hours  measure  the  value  of  the  yarn  produced  in  the  last  hour 
but  one,  and  5f,  the  value  of  the  yarn  produced  in  the  last 
hour.  We  now  come  to  a  ticklish  point ;  therefore,  attention  ! 
The  last  working  hour  but  one  is,  like  the  first,  an  ordinary 
working  hour,  neither  more  nor  less.  How  then  can  the 
spinner  produce  in  one  hour,  in  the  shape  of  yarn,  a  value  that 
embodies  5f  hours  labour  ?  The  truth  is  that  he  performs  no 
such  miracle.  The  use-value  produced  by  him  in  one  hour,  is 
a  definite  quantity  of  yarn.  The  value  of  this  yarn  is  meas- 
ured by  5f  working  hours,  of  which  4f  were,  without  any 
assistance  from  him,  previously  embodied  in  the  means  of 
production,  in  the  cotton,  the  machinery,  and  so  on;  the  re- 
maining one  hour  is  added  by  him.  Therefore  since  his  wages 
are  produced  in  5f  hours,  and  the  yarn  produced  in  one  hour 
also  contains  5f  hours'  work,  there  is  no  witchcraft  in  the  re- 
sult, that  the  value  created  by  his  5f  hours'  spinning,  is  equal 
to  the  value  of  the  product  spun  in  one  hour.  You  are  alto- 
gether on  the  wrong  track,  if  you  think  that  he  loses  a  single 
moment  of  his  working  day,  in  reproducing  or  replacing  the 
values  of  the  cotton,  the  machinery,  and  so  on.  On  the  con- 
trary, it  is  because  his  labour  converts  the  cotton  and  spindles 
into  yarn,  because  he  spins,  that  the  values  of  the  cotton  and 
spindles  go  over  to  the  yarn  of  their  own  accord.  This  result 
is  owing  to  the  quality  of  his  labour,  not  to  its  quantity.  It  is 
true,  he  will  in  one  hour  tranfer  to  the  yarn  more  value,  in  the 
shape  of  cotton,  than  he  will  in  half  an  hour ;  but  that  is  only 
because  in  one  hour  he  spins  up  more  cotton  than  in  half  an 
hour.  You  see  then,  your  assertion,  that  the  workman  pro- 
duces, in  the  last  hour  but  one,  the  value  of  his  wages,  and  in 
the  last  hour  your  net  profit,  amounts  to  no  more  than  this, 

252  Capitalist  Production. 

that  in  the  yarn  produced  by  him  in  2  working  hours,  whether 
they  are  the  2  first  or  the  2  last  hours  of  the  working  day,  in 
that  yarn,  there  are  incorporated  11^  working  hours,  or  just  a 
whole  day's  work,  i.  e.,  two  hours  of  his  own  work  and  9^  hours 
of  other  people's.  And  my  assertion  that,  in  the  first  5f  hours, 
he  produces  his  wages,  and  in  the  last  5f  hours  your  net  profit, 
amounts  only  to  this,  that  you  pay  him  for  the  former,  but  not 
for  the  latter.  In  speaking  of  payment  of  labour,  instead  of 
payment  of  labour-power,  I  only  talk  your  own  slang.  Now, 
gentlemen,  if  you  compare  the  working  time  you  pay  for,  with 
that  which  you  do  not  pay  for,  you  will  find  tha4^  they  are  to 
one  another,  as  half  a  day  is  to  half  a  day ;  this  gives  a  rate  of 
100%,  and  a  very  pretty  percentage  it  is.  Further,  there  is 
not  the  least  doubt,  that  if  you  make  your  "hands"  toil  for  13 
hours  instead  of  11^,  and,  as  may  be  expected  from  you,  treat 
the  work  done  in  that  extra  one  hour  and  a  half,  as  pure 
surplus-labour,  then  the  latter  will  be  increased  from  5f  hours7 
labour  to  7^  hours'  labour,  and  the  rate  of  surplus-value  from 
100%,  to  126-^-%.  So  that  you  are  altogether  too  sanguine, 
in  expecting  that  by  such  an  addition  of  1^  hours  to  the  work- 
ing day,  the  rate  will  rise  from  100%  to  200%  and  more,  in 
other  words  that  it  will  be  "more  than  doubled."  On  the  other 
hand — man's  heart  is  a  wonderful  thing,  especially  when  car- 
ried in  the  purse — you  take  too  pessimistic  a  view,  when  you 
fear,  that  with  a  reduction  of  the  hours  of  labour  from  11^  to 
10,  the  whole  of  your  net  profit  will  go  to  the  dogs.  Not  at 
all.  All  other  conditions  remaining  the  same,  the  surplus- 
labour  will  fall  from  5|  hours  to  4f  hours,  a  period  that  still 
gives  a  very  profitable  rate  of  surplus-value,  namely  82|-|-%. 
But  this  dreadful  "last  hour,"  about  which  you  have  invented 
more  stories  than  have  the  millenarians  about  the  day  of 
judgment,  is  "all  bosh."  If  it  goes,  it  will  cost  neither  you, 
your  net  profit,  nor  the  boys  and  girls  whom  you  employ,  their 
"purity  of  mind."1     Whenever  your  "last  hour"  strikes  in 

1  If,  on  the  one  hand,  Senior  proved  that  the  net  profit  of  the  manufacturer, 
the  existence  of  the  English  cotton  industry,  and  England's  command  of  the  markets 
of  the  world,  depend  on  "the  last  working  hour,"  on  th?  other  hand,  Dr.  Andrew 
Ure  showed,  that  if  children  and  young  persons  under  18  years  of  age,  instead  of  be- 
ing kept  the   full  12   hours  in  the  warm  and  pure  moral  atmosphere  of  the  factory, 

The  Rate  of  Surplus-value.  253 

earnest,  think  on  the  Oxford  Professor.  And  now,  gentleman, 
"farewell,  and  may  we  meet  again  in  yonder  better  world,  but 
not  before." 

Senior  invented  the  battle  cry  of  the  "last  hour"  in  1836.1 

are  turned  out  an  hour  sooner  into  the  heartless  and  frivolous  outer  world",  they  will 
be  deprived,  by  idleness  and  vice,  of  all  hope  of  salvation  for  their  souls.  Since 
1848,  the  factory  inspectors  have  never  tired  of  twitting  the  masters  with  this  "last,'' 
this  "fatal  hour."  Thus  Mr.  Howell  in  his  report  of  the  31st  May,  1855:  "Had 
the  following  ingenious  calculation  (he  quotes  Senior)  been  correct,  every  cotton 
factory  in  the  United  Kingdom  would  have  been  working  at  a  loss  since  the  year 
1850."  (Reports  of  the  Insp.  of  Fact,  for  the  half-year,  ending  30th  April,  1855, 
pp.  19,  20.)  In  the  year  1848,  after  the  passing  of  the  10  hour's  bill,  the  masters 
of  some  flax  spinning  mills,  scattered,  few  and  far  between,  over  the  country  on  the 
borders  of  Dorset  and  Somerset,  foisted  a  petition  against  the  bill  on  to  the  shoul- 
ders of  a  few  of  their  work  people.  One  of  the  clauses  of  this  petition  is  as  fol- 
lows: "Your  petitioners,  as  parents,  conceive  that  an  additional  hour  of  leisure  will 
tend  more  to  demoralise  the  children  than  otherwise,  believing  that  idleness  is  the 
parent  of  vice."  On  this  the  factory  report  of  31st  Oct.,  1S48,  says:  The  atmos- 
phere of  the  flax  mills,  in  which  the  children  of  these  virtuous  and  tender  parents 
work,  is  so  loaded  with  dust  and  fibre  from  the  raw  material,  that  it  is  exception- 
ally unpleasant  to  stand  even  10  minutes  in  the  spinning  rooms:  for  you  are  unable 
to  do  so  without  the  most  painful  sensation,  owing  to  the  eyes,  the  ears,  the  nostrils, 
and  mouth,  being  immediately  filled  by  the  clouds  of  flax  dust  from  which  there  is 
no  escape.  The  labour  itself,  owing  to  the  feverish  haste  of  the  machinery,  demands 
unceasing  application  of  skill  and  movement,  under  the  control  of  a  watchfulness 
that  never  tires,  and  it  seems  somewhat  hard,  to  let  parents  apply  the  term  "idling" 
to  their  own  children,  who,  after  allowing  for  meal  times,  are  fettered  for  10  whole 
hours  to  such  an  occupation,  in  such  an  atmosphere.      .      .      .     These  children  work 

longer  than  the  labourers  in   the  neighbouring  villages Such  cruel 

talk  about  "idleness  and  vice"  ought  to  be  branded  as  the  purest  cant,  and  the  most 

shameless    hypocrisy That    portion    of    the    public,    who,    about    12 

years  ago,  were  struck  by  the  assurance  with  which,  under  the  sanction  of  high 
authority,  it  was  publicly  and  most  earnestly  proclaimed,  that  the  whole  net  profit 
of  the  manufacturer  flows  from  the  labour  of  the  last  hour,  and  that,  therefore, 
the  reduction  of  the  working  day  by  one  hour,  would  destroy  his  net  profit;  that 
portion  of  the  public,  we  say,  will  hardly  believe  its  own  eyes,  when  it  now  finds, 
that  the  original  discovery  of  the  virtues  of  "the  last  hour"  has  since  been  so  far 
improved,  as  to  include  morals  as  well  as  profit;  so  that,  if  the  duration  of  the 
labour  of  children,  is  reduced  to  a  full  10  hours,  their  morals,  together  with  the  net 
profits  of  their  employers,  will  vanish,  both  being  dependent  on  this  last,  this  fatal 
hour.  (See  Repts.,  Insp.  of  Fact.,  for  31st  Oct.,  1848,  p.  101.)  The  same  report 
then  gives  some  examples  of  the  morality  and  virtue  of  these  same  pure-minded 
manufacturers,  of  the  tricks,  the  artifices,  the  cajoling,  the  threats,  and  the  falsifica- 
tions, they  made  use  of,  in  order,  first,  to  compel  a  few  defenceless  workmen  to  sign 
petitions  of  such  a  kind,  and  then  to  impose  them  upon  Parliament  as  the  petitions 
of  a  whole  branch  of  industry,  or  a  whole  country.  It  is  highly  characteristic  of  the 
present  status  of  so  called  economical  science,  that  neither  Senior  himself,  who,  at 
a  later  period,  to  his  honour  be  it  said,  energetically  supported  the  factory  legisla- 
tion, nor  his  opponents,  from  first  to  last,  have  ever  been  able  to  explain  the  false 
conclusions  of  the  "original  discovery."  They  appeal  to  actual  experience,  but  the 
why  and  wherefore  remains  a  mystery. 

1  Nevertheless,  the  learned  professor  was  not  without  some  benefit  from  his  jour- 
ney to  Manchester.  In  the  "Letters  on  the  Factory  Act,"  he  makes  the  whole  net 
gains  including  "profit"   and  "interest,"  and  even  "something  more,"   depend   upon 

254  Capitalist  Production. 

In  the  London  Economist  of  the  15th  April,  1848,  the  same  cry- 
was  again  raised  by  James  Wilson,  an  economical  mandarin  of 
high  standing:  this  time  in  opposition  to  the  10  hours'  bill. 


The  portion  of  the  product  that  represents  the  surplus-value, 
(one-tenth  of  the  20  lbs.,  or  2  lbs.  of  yarn,  in  the  example  given 
in  Sec.  2,)  we  call  "surplus-produce."  Just  as  the  rate  of 
surplus-value  is  determined  by  its  relation,  not  to  the  sum  total 
of  the  capital,  but  to  its  variable  part;  in  like  manner,  the  re- 
lative quantity  of  surplus-produce  is  determined  by  the  ratio 
that  this  produce  bears,  not  to  the  remaining  part  of  the  total 
product,  but  to  that  part  of  it  in  which  is  incorporated  the 
necessary  labour.  Since  the  production  of  surplus-value  is  the 
chief  end  and  aim  of  capitalist  production,  it  is  clear,  that  the 
greatness  of  a  man's  or  a  nation's  wealth  should  be  measured, 
not  by  the  absolute  quantity  produced,  but  bv  the  relative 
magnitude  of  the  surplus-produce.1 

The  sum  of  the  necessary  labour  and  the  surplus-labour,  i.e., 
of  the  periods  of  time  during  which  the  workman  replaces  the 

a  single  unpaid  hour's  work  of  the  labourer.  One  year  previously,  in  his  "Outlines 
of  Political  Economy,"  written  for  the  instruction  of  Oxford  students  and  cultivated 
Philistines,  he  had  also  "discovered,  in  opposition  to  Ricardo's  determination  of 
value  by  labour,  that  profit  is  derived  from  the  labour  of  the  capitalist,  and  interest 
from  his  asceticism,  in  other  words,  from  his  "abstinence."  The  dodge  was  an  old 
one,  but  the  word  "abstinence"  was  new.  Herr  Roscher  translates  it  rightly  by 
"Enthaltung."  Some  of  his  countrymen,  the  Browns,  Jones,  and  Robinsons,  of 
Germany,  not  so  well  versed  in  Latin  as  he,  have,  monk-like,  rendered  it  by 
"Entsagung"   (renunciation). 

1  ''To  an  individual  with  a  capital  of  £20,000,  whose  profits  were  £2,000  per  an- 
num, it  would  be  a  mattter  quite  indifferent  whether  his  capital  would  employ  a 
100  or  1,000  men,  whether  the  commodity  produced  sold  for  £10,000  or  £20,000, 
provided,  in  all  cases,  his  profit  were  not  diminished  below  £2,000.  Is  not  the 
real  interest  of  the  nation  similar?  Provided  its  net  real  income,  its  rent  and 
profits,  be  the  same,  it  is  of  no  importance  whether  the  nation  consists  of  10  or  of 
12  millions  of  inhabitants."  (Ric.  1.  c,  p.  416.)  Long  before  Ricardo,  Arthur 
Young,  a  fanatical  upholder  of  surplus  produce,  for  the  rest,  a  rambling  uncritical 
writer,  whose  reputation  is  in  the  inverse  ratio  of  his  merit,  says,  "Of  what  use,  in 
a  modern  kingdom,  would  be  a  whole  province  thus  divided,  [in  the  old  Roman  man- 
ner, by  small  independent  peasants],  however  well  cultivated,  except  for  the  mere 
purpose  of  breeding  men,  which  taken  singly  is  a  most  useless  purpose?"  (Arthur 
Young:    Political   Arithmetic,    &c.     London,    1774,    p.    47.) 

Very  curious  is  "the  strong  inclination  ...  to  represent  net  wealth  as  bene- 
ficial to  the  labouring  class  ....  though  it  is  evidently  not  on  account  of 
being  net."      (Th.    Hopkins,   On   Rent  of   Land,   &c.     I^ndon,   1823,   p.   126.) 

The  Working  Day.  255 

value  of  his  labour-power,  and  produces  the  surplus-value,  this 
sum  constitutes  the  actual  time  during  which  he  works,  i.e.,  the 
working  day. 



We  started  with  the  supposition  that  labour-power  is  bought 
and  sold  at  its  value.  Its  value,  like  that  of  all  other  commo- 
dities, is  determined  by  the  working  time  necessary  to  its 
production.  If  the  production  of  the  average  daily  means  of 
subsistence  of  the  labourer  takes  up  6  hours,  he  must  work,  on 
the  average,  6  hours  every  day,  to  produce  his  daily  labour- 
power,  or  to  reproduce  the  value  received  as  the  result  of  its 
sale.  The  necessary  part  of  his  working  day  amounts  to  6 
hours,  and  is,  therefore,  cceteris  paribus,  a  given  quantity. 
But  with  this,  the  extent  of  the  working  day  itself  is  not  yet 

Let  us  assume  that  the  line  A  B  represents  the  length  of  the 
necessary  working  time,  say  6  hours.  If  the  labour  be  pro- 
longed 1,  3,  or  6  hours  beyond  A  B,  we  have  3  other  lines: 
Working  day  I.  Working  day  II.  Working  day  III. 

A B— C.       A B C.       A B C. 

representing  3  different  working  days  of  7,  9,  and  12  hours. 
The  extension  B  C  of  the  line  A  B  represents  the  length  of 
the  surplus  labour.  As  the  working  day  is  A  B  -f  B  C  or 
A  C,  it  varies  with  the  variable  quantity  B  C.  Since  A  B 
is  constant,  the  ratio  of  B  C  to  A  B  can  always  be  calculated. 
In  working  day  I.  it  is  ^,  in  working  day  II,  -f  in  working  day 

III,  §  of  A  B.  Since,  further  the  ratio  D?crePslrryTokr'kning't"me  de- 
termines the  rate  of  the  surplus-value,  the  latter  is  given  by 
the  ratio  of  B  C  to  A  B.  It  amounts  in  the  3  different  working 
days  respectively  to  16|,  50  and  100  per  cent.  On  the  other 
hand,  the  rate  of  surplus-value  alone  would  not  give  us  the 

256  Capitalist  Production. 

extent  of  the  working  day.  If  this  rate  e.g.,  were  100  per 
cent.,  the  working  day  might  be  of  8,  10,  12,  or  more  hours. 
It  would  indicate  that  the  2  constituent  parts  of  the  working 
day,  necessary-labour  and  surplus-labour  time,  were  equal  in 
extent,  but  not  how  long  each  of  these  two  constituent  parts 

The  working  day  is  thus  not  a  constant,  but  a  variable 
quantity.  One  of  its  parts,  certainly,  is  determined  by  the 
working  time  required  for  the  reproduction  of  the  labour- 
power  of  the  labourer  himself.  But  its  total  amount  varies 
with  the  duration  of  the  surplus-labour.  The  working  day  is, 
therefore,  determinable,  but  is,  per  se,  indeterminate.1 

Although  the  working  day  is  not  a  fixed,  but  a  fluent 
quantity,  it  can,  on  the  other  hand,  only  vary  within  certain 
limits.  The  minimum  limit  is,  however,  not  determinable ; 
of  course,  if  we  make  the  extension  line  BC  or  the  surplus- 
labour=0,  we  have  a  minimum  limit,  i.e.,  the  part  of  the  day 
which  the  labourer  must  necessarily  work  for  his  own  main- 
tenance. On  the  basis  of  capitalist  production,  however,  this 
necessary  labour  can  form  a  part  only  of  the  working  day ;  the 
working  day  itself  can  never  be  reduced  to  this  minimum.  On 
the  other  hand,  the  working  day  has  a  maximum  limit.  It 
cannot  be  prolonged  beyond  a  certain  point.  This  maximum 
limit  is  conditioned  by  two  things.  First,  by  the  physical 
bounds  of  labour-power.  Within  the  24  hours  of  the  natural 
day  a  man  can  expend  only  a  definite  quantity  of  his  vital  force, 
A  horse,  in  like  manner,  can  only  work  from  day  to  day,  8 
hours.  During  part  of  the  day  this  force  must  rest,  sleep ; 
during  another  part  the  man  has  to  satisfy  other  physical  needs, 
to  feed,  wash,  and  clothe  himself.  Besides  these  purely  physi- 
cal limitations,  the  extension  of  the  working  day  encounters 
moral  ones.  The  labourer  needs  time  for  satisfying  his  intel- 
lectual and  social  wants,  the  extent  and  number  of  which  are 
conditioned  by  the  general  state  of  social  advancement.  The 
variation  of  the  working  day  fluctuates,  therefore,  within 
physical  and  social  bounds.     But  both  these  limiting  condi- 

1  "A  day's  labour  is  vague,  it  may  be  long  or  short."  ("An  Essay  on  Trade  and 
Commerce,    containing   observations   on    taxes,"    &c.     London,    1770.   p.    73.) 

The  Working  Day.  257 

tions  are  of  a  very  elastic  nature,  and  allow  the  greatest  lati- 
tude. So  we  find  working  days  of  8,  10,  12,  14,  16,  18  hours, 
i.e.,  of  the  most  different  lengths. 

The  capitalist  has  bought  the  labour-power  at  its  day-rate. 
To  him  its  use-value  belongs  during  one  working  day.  He 
has  thus  acquired  the  right  to  make  the  labourer  work  for  him 
during  one  day.     But  what  is  a  working  day  ?  * 

At  all  even  ,  less  than  a  natural  day.  By  how  much  ? 
The  capitalist  has  his  own  views  of  this  ultima,  Thule,  the 
necessary  umit  of  the  working  day.  As  capitalist,  he  is  only 
capital  personified.  His  soul  is  the  soul  of  capital.  But 
capital  has  one  single  life  impulse,  the  tendency  to  create 
value  and  surplus-value,  to  make  its  constant  factor,  the  means 
of  production,  absorb  the  greatest  possible  amount  of  surplus- 
laboin . 3 

Capital  is  dead  labour,  that  vampire-like,  only  lives  by 
sucking  living  labour,  and  lives  the  more,  the  more  labour  it 
sucks.  The  time  during  which  the  labourer  works,  is  the  time 
during  which  the  capitalist  consumes  the  labour-power  he  has 
purchased  of  him.3 

If  the  labourer  consumes  his  disposable  time  for  himself,  he 
robs  the  capitalist.4 

The  capitalist  then  takes  his  stand  on  the  law  of  the  ex- 
change of  commodities.  He,  like  all  other  buyers,  seeks  to  get 
the  greatest  possible  benefit  out  of  the  use-value  of  his  commo- 
dity.    Suddenly  the  voice  of  the  labourer,  which  had  been 

1  This  question  is  far  more  important  than  the  celebrated  question  of  Sir  Robert 
Peel  to  the  Birmingham  Chamber  of  Commerce:  What  is  a  pound?  A  question 
that  could  only  have  been  proposed,  because  Peel  was  as  much  in  the  dark  as  to  the 
nature   of   money   as   the    "little    shilling  men"   of    Birmingham. 

2  It  is  the  aim  of  the  capitalist  to  obtain  with  his  expended  capital  the  greatest 
possible  quantity  of  labour  (d'obetnir  du  capital  depense  la  plus  forte  somme  de 
travail  possible).  J.  G.  Courcelle-Seneuil  .  .  Traite  theorique  et  pratique  des  entre- 
prises  industrielles.     2nd  ed.     Paris,  1857,  p.  63. 

*  "An  hour's  labour  lost  in  a  day  is  a  prodigious  injury  to  a  commercial  State. 
.  .  .  There  is  a  very  great  consumption  of  luxuries  among  the  labouring  poor  of 
this  kingdom:  particularly  among  the  manufacturing  populace,  by  which  they  also 
consume  their  time,  the  most  fatal  of  consumptions."  An  Essay  on  Trade  and 
Commerce,    &c,    p.    47    and    153. 

4  "Si  le  manouvrier  libre  prend  un  instant  de  repos,  l'economie  sordide  qui  le  suit 
des  yeux  avec  inquietude  pretend  qu'il  la  vole."  N.  Linguet-  "Theorie  des  loix 
civiles,  &c.     London,   1767,"   t.  II.,  p.   466. 


258  Capitalist  Production. 

stifled  in  the  storm  and  stress  of  the  process  of  production, 
rises : 

The  commodity  that  I  have  sold  to  you  differs  from  the 
crowd  of  other  commodities,  in  that  its  use  creates  value,  and 
a  value  greater  than  its  own.  That  is  why  you  bought  it. 
That  which  on  your  side  appears  a  spontaneous  expansion  of 
capital,  is  on  mine  extra  expenditure  of  labour-power.  You 
and  I  know  on  the  market  only  one  law,  that  of  the  exchange 
of  commodities.  And  the  consumption  of  the  commodity 
belongs  not  to  the  seller  who  parts  with  it,  but  to  the  buyer, 
who  acquires  it.  To  you,  therefore,  belongs  the  use  of  my 
daily  labour-power.  But  by  means  of  the  price  that  you  pay 
for  it  each  day,  I  must  be  able  to  reproduce  it  daily,  and  to 
sell  it  again.  Apart  from  natural  exhaustion  through  age,  &c., 
I  must  be  able  on  the  morrow  to  work  with  the  same  normal 
amount  of  force,  health  and  freshness  as  to-day.  You  preach 
to  me  constantly  the  gospel  of  "saving"  and  "abstinence." 
Good !  I  will,  like  a  sensible  saving  owner,  husband  my  sole 
wealth,  labour-power,  and  abstain  from  all  foolish  waste  of  it. 
I  will  each  day  spend,  set  in  motion,  put  into  action  only  as 
much  of  it  as  is  compatible  with  its  normal  duration,  and 
healthy  development.  By  an  unlimited  extension  of  the 
working  day,  you  may  in  one  day  use  up  a  quantity  of  labour- 
power  greater  than  I  can  restore  in  three.  What  you  gain  in 
labour  I  lose  in  substance.  The  use  of  my  labour-power  and 
the  spoliation  of  it  are  quite  different  things.  If  the  average 
time  that  (doing  a  reasonable  amount  of  work)  an  average 
labourer  can  live,  is  30  years,  the  value  of  my  labour-power, 
which  you  pay  me  from  day  to  day  is  3651X30  or  tottf0^  its 
total  value.  But  if  you  consume  it  in  ten  years,  you  pay  me 
daily  roi^r  instead  of  -g-^Vir  °f  its  total  value,  i.e.,  only  -J  of  its 
daily  value,  and  you  rob  me,  therefore,  every  day  of  §  of  the 
value  of  my  commodity.  You  pay  me  for  one  day's  labour- 
power,  whilst  you  use  that  of  3  days.  That  is  against  our 
contract  and  the  law  of  exchanges.  I  demand,  therefor,  a 
working  day  of  normal  length,  and  I  demand  it  without  any 
appeal  to  your  heart,  for  in  money  matters  sentiment  is  out 
of  place.     You  may  be  a  model  citizen,  perhaps  a  member 

The  Working  Day.  259 

of  the  Society  for  the  Prevention  of  Cruelty  to  Animals,  and 
in  the  odour  of  sanctity  to  boot ;  but  the  thing  that  you  rep- 
resent face  to  face  with  me  has  no  heart  in  its  breast.  That 
which  seems  to  throb  there  is  my  own  heart-beating.  I  de- 
mand the  normal  working  day  because  I,  like  every  otlier 
seller,  demand  the  value  of  my  commodity.1 

We  see  then,  that,  apart  from  extremely  elastic  bounds,  the 
nature  of  the  exchange  of  commodities  itself  imposes  no  limit 
to  the  working  day,  no  limit  to  surplus-labour.  The  capitalist 
maintains  his  rights  as  a  purchaser  when  he  tries  to  make  the 
working  day  as  long  as  possible,  and  to  make,  whenever  possi- 
ble, two  working  days  out  of  one.  On  the  other  hand,  the 
peculiar  nature  of  the  commodity  sold  implies  a  limit  to  its 
consumption  by  the  purchaser,  and  the  labourer  maintains  his 
right  as  seller  when  he  wishes  to  reduce  the  working  day  to  one 
of  definite  normal  duration.  There  is  here,  therefore,  an  anti- 
nomy, right  against  right,  both  equally  bearing  the  seal  of  the 
law  of  exchanges.  Between  equal  rights  force  decides. 
Hence  is  it  that  in  the  history  of  capitalist  production,  the  de- 
termination of  what  is  a  working  day,  presents  itself  as  the  re- 
sult of  a  struggle,  a  struggle  between  collective  capital,  i.e.,  the 
elass  of  capitalists,  and  collective  labour, ie.,the  working  class. 


Capital  has  not  invented  surplus-labour.  Wherever  a  part 
of  society  possesses  the  monopoly  of  the  means  of  production, 
the  labourer  free  or  not  free,  must  add  to  the  working  time 
necessary  for  his  own  maintenance  an  extra  working  time  in 
order  to  produce  the  means  of  subsistence  for  the  owners  of  the 
means  of  production,2  whether  this  proprietor  be  the  Athenian 

1  During  the  great  strike  of  the  London  builders,  1860-61,  for  the  reduction  of 
the  working  day  to  9  hours,  their  Committee  published  a  manifesto  that  contained,  to 
some  extent,  the  plea  of  our  workers.  The  manifesto  alludes,  not  without  irony,  to 
the  fact,  that  the  greatest  profit-monger  amongst  the  building  masters,  a  certain 
Sir  M.  Peto,  was  in  the  odour  of  sanctity.  (This  same  Peto,  after  1867,  came  to  an 
end  a  la  Strousberg.) 

*  "Those  who  labour  ....  in  reality  feed  both  the  pensioners  •  »  • 
[called  the  rich]  and  themselves."     (Edmund  Burke,  1.  c,  p.  2.) 

260  Capitalist  Production. 

KaXos  Kaya^os,  Etruscan  theocrat,  civis  Romanus,  Korman 
baron,  American  slave  owner,  Wallacliian  Boyard,  modern 
landlord  or  capitalist.1  It  is,  however,  clear  that  in  any 
given  economic  formation  of  society,  where  not  the  exchange 
value  but  the  use-value  of  the  product  predominates,  surplus- 
labour  will  be  limited  by  a  given  set  of  wants  which  may  be 
greater  or  less,  and  that  here  no  boundless  thirst  for  surplus- 
labour  arises  from  the  nature  of  the  production  itself.  Hence 
in  antiquity  overwork  becomes  horrible  only  when  the  object  is 
to  obtain  exchange  value  in  its  specific  independent  money- 
form  ;  in  the  production  of  gold  and  silver.  Compulsory  work- 
ing to  death  is  here  the  recognized  form  of  over-work.  Only 
read  Diodorus  Siculus.2  Still  these  are  exceptions  in  antiq- 
uity. But  as  soon  as  people,  whose  production  still  moves 
within  the  lower  forms  of  slave-labour,  corvee-labour,  &c, 
are  drawn  into  the  whirlpool  of  an  international  mar- 
ket dominated  by  the  capitalistic  mode  of  production,  the 
sale  of  their  products  for  export  becoming  their  principal 
interest,  the  civilized  horrors  of  over-work  are  grafted 
on  the  barbaric  horrors  of  slavery,  serfdom,  &c.  Hence  the 
negro  labour  in  the  Southern  States  of  the  American 
Union  preserved  something  of  a  patriarchal  character,  so  long 
as  production  was  chiefly  directed  to  immediate  local  consump- 
tion. But  in  proportion,  as  the  export  of  cotton  became  of 
vital  interest  to  these  states,  the  over-working  of  the  negro  and 
sometimes  the  using  up  of  his  life  in  7  years'  of  labour  became 
a  factor  in  a  calculated  and  calculating  system.  It  was  no 
longer  a  question  of  obtaining  from  him  a  certain  quantity  of 
useful  products.  It  was  now  a  question  of  production  of  sur- 
plus-labour itself.  So  was  it  also  with  the  corvee,  e.g.,  in  the 
Danubian  Principalities  (now  Koumania). 

1  Niebuhr  in  his  "Roman  History"  says  very  naively:  "It  is  evident  that  works 
like  the  Etruscan,  which,  in  their  ruins  astound  us,  presuppose  in  little  (!)  states 
lords  and  vassals."  Sismondi  says  far  more  to  the  purpose  that  "Brussels  lace" 
presupposes  wage-lords  and  wage-slaves. 

2  "One  cannot  see  these  unfortunates  (in  the  gold  mines  between  Egypt,  Ethiopia, 
and  Arabia)  who  cannot  even  have  their  bodies  clean,  or  their  nakedness  clothed, 
without  pitying  their  miserable  lot.  There  is  no  indulgence,  no  forbearance  for  the 
sick,  the  feeble,  the  aged,  for  woman's  weakness.  All  must,  forced  by  blows,  work 
on  until  death  puts  an  end  to  their  sufferings  and  their  distress."  ("Diod.  Sic.  Bibl. 
Hist."   lib.   3.   c.   13.) 

The  Working  Day.  261 

The  comparison  of  the  greed  for  surplus-labour  in  tha 
Danubian  Principalities  with  the  same  greed  in  English  fac- 
tories has  special  interest,  because  surplus-labour,  in  the  corvee 
has  an  independent  and  palpable  form. 

Suppose  the  working  day  consists  of  6  hours  of  necessary 
labour,  and  6  hours  of  surplus-labour.  Then  the  free  labourer 
gives  the  capitalist  every  week  6  X  6  or  36  hours  of  surplus- 
labour.  It  is  the  same  as  if  he  worked  3  days  in  the  week  for 
himself,  and  3  days  in  the  week  gratis  for  the  capitalist.  But 
this  is  not  evident  on  the  surface.  Surplus-labour  and  neces- 
sary labour  glide  one  into  the  other.  I  can,  therefore,  express 
the  same  relationship  by  saying,  e.g.,  that  the  labourer  in  every 
minute  works  30  seconds  for  himself,  and  30  for  the  capitalist, 
etc.  It  is  otherwise  with  the  corvee.  The  necessary  labour 
which  the  Wallachian  peasant  does  for  his  own  maintenance  is 
distinctly  marked  off  from  his  surplus-labour  on  behalf  of  the 
Boyard.  The  one  he  does  on  his  own  field,  the  other  on  the 
seignorial  estate.  Both  parts  of  the  labour-time  exist,  there- 
fore, independently,  side  by  side  one  with  the  other.  In  the 
corvee  the  surplus-labour  is  accurately  marked  off  from  the 
necessary  labour.  This,  however,  can  make  no  difference  with 
regard  to  the  quantitative  relation  of  surplus-labour  to  neces- 
sary labour.  Three  days'  surplus-labour  in  the  week  remain 
three  days  that  yield  no  equivalent  to  the  labourer  himself, 
whether  it  be  called  corvee  or  wage-labour.  But  in  the  capi- 
talist the  greed  for  surplus-labour  appears  in  the  straining 
after  an  unlimited  extension  of  the  working  day,  in  the  Boyard 
more  simply  in  a  direct  hunting  after  days  of  corvee.1 

In  the  Danubian  Principalities  the  corvee  was  mixed  up 
with  rents  in  kind  and  other  appurtenances  of  bondage,  but  it 
formed  the  most  important  tribute  paid  to  the  ruling  class. 
Where  this  was  the  case,  the  corvee  rarely  arose  from  serfdom ; 
serfdom  much  more  frequently  on  the  other  hand  took  origin 
from  the  corvee.2     This  is  what  took  place  in  the  Roumanian 

1  That  which  follows  refers  to  the  situation  in  the  Roumanian  provinces  before  the 
change  effected  since  the  Crimean  war. 

3  This  holds  likewise  for  Germany,  and  especially  for  Prussia  east  of  the  Elbe. 
In  the  15th  century  the  German  peasant  was  nearly  everywhere  a  man,  who,  whilst 
6ubject  to  certain  rents  paid  in  produce  and  labour  was  otherwise  at  least  practically 

262  Capitalist  Production. 

Provinces.  Their  original  mode  of  production  was  based  on 
community  of  the  soil,  but  not  in  the  Slavonic  or  Indian  form. 
Part  of  the  land  was  cultivated  in  severalty  as  freehold  by  the 
members  of  the  community,  another  part — ager  publicus — was 
cultivated  by  them  in  common.  The  products  of  this  common 
labour  served  partly  as  a  reserve  fund  against  bad  harvests  and 
other  accidents,  partly  as  a  public  store  for  providing  the  costs 
of  war,  religion,  and  other  common  expenses.  In  course  of 
time  military  and  clerical  dignitaries  usurped,  along  with  the 
common  land,  the  labour  spent  upon  it.  The  labour  of  the  free 
peasants  on  their  common  land  was  transformed  into  corvee  for 
the  thieves  of  the  common  land.  This  corvee  soon  developed 
into  a  servile  relationship  existing  in  point  of  fact,  not  in  point 
of  law,  until  Russia,  the  liberator  of  the  world,  made  it  legal 
under  pretence  of  abolishing  serfdom.  The  code  of  the  corvee, 
which  the  Russian  General  KisselefT  proclaimed  in  1831,  was 
of  course  dictated  by  the  Boyards  themselves.  Thus  Russia 
conquered  with  one  blow  the  magnates  of  the  Danubian  prov- 
inces, and  the  applause  of  liberal  cretins  throughout  Europe. 

According  to  the  "Reglement  organique,"  as  this  code  of  the 
corvee  is  called,  every  Wallachian  peasant  owes  to  the  so-called 
landlord,  besides  a  mass  of  detailed  payments  in  kind:  (1),  12 
days  of  general  labour;  (2),  one  day  of  field  labour;  (3),  one 
day  of  wood  carrying.  In  all,  14  days  in  the  year.  With 
deep  insight  into  political  economy,  however,  the  working  day 
is  not  taken  in  its  ordinary  sense,  but  as  the  working  day  neces- 
sary to  the  production  of  an  average  daily  product;  and  that 
average  daily  product  is  determined  in  so  crafty  a  way  that  nf> 
Cyclops  would  be  done  with  it  in  24  hours.  In  dry  words,  ths 
Reglement  itself  declares  with  true  Russian  irony  that  by  12 
working  days  one  must  understand  the  product  of  the  manual 
labour  of  36  days,  by  1  day  of  field  labour  3  days,  and  by  1  day 

free.  The  German  colonists  in  Brandenburg,  Pomerania,  Silesia,  and  Eastern  Prus- 
sia, were  even  legally  acknowledged  as  free  men.  The  victory  of  the  nobility  in  the 
peasants'  war  put  an  end  to  that.  Not  only  were  the  conquered  South  German 
peasants  again  enslaved.  From  the  middle  of  the  16th  century  the  peasants  of 
Eastern  Prussia,  Brandenburg,  Pomerania,  and  Silesia,  and  soon  after  the  free  peas- 
ants of  Schleswig-Holstein  were  degraded  to  the  condition  of  serfs.  (Maurer, 
Fronhofe  iv.  vol., — Meitzen,  der  Boden  des  preussischen  Staats. — Hansen,  Leibeigcn- 
schaft  in   Schleswig-Holstein. — Ed.) 

The  Working  Day.  263 

of  wood  carrying  in  like  manner  three  times  as  much.  In  all, 
42  corvee  days.  To  this  had  to  be  added  the  so-called  jobagie, 
service  due  to  the  lord  for  extraordinary  occasions.  In  propor- 
tion to  the  size  of  its  population,  every  village  has  to  furnish 
annually  a  definite  contingent  to  the  jobagie.  This  additional 
corvee  is  estimated  at  14  days  for  each  Wallachian  peasant 
Thus  the  prescribed  corvee  amounts  to  56  working  days  yearly. 
But  the  agricultural  year  in  Wallachia  numbers  in  consequence 
of  the  severe  climate  only  210  days,  of  which  40  for  Sundays 
and  holidays,  30  on  an  average  for  bad  weather,  together  70 
days,  do  not  count.  140  working  days  remain.  The  ratio  of 
the  corvee  to  the  necessary  labour  |f  or  66f%  gives  a  much 
smaller  rate  of  surplus-value  than  that  which  regulates  the 
labour  of  the  English  agricultural  of  factory  labourer.  This 
is,  however,  only  the  legally  prescribed  corvee.  And  in  a 
spirit  yet  more  "liberal"  than  the  English  Factory  Acts,  the 
"Reglement  organique"  has  known  how  to  facilitate  its  own 
evasion.  After  it  has  made  56  days  out  of  12,  the  nominal 
days  work  of  each  of  the  56  corvee  days  is  again  so  arranged 
that  a  portion  of  it  must  fall  on  the  ensuing  day.  In  one  day, 
e.g.,  must  be  weeded  an  extent  of  land,  which,  for  this  work, 
especially  in  maize  plantations,  needs  twice  as  much  time. 
The  legal  day's  work  for  some  kinds  of  agricultural  labour  is 
interpretable  in  such  a  way  that  the  day  begins  in  May  and 
ends  in  October.  In  Moldavia  conditions  are  still  harder. 
"The  corvee  days  of  the  'Reglement  organique,'  "  cried  a  Boy- 
ard,  drunk  with  victory,  "amount  to  365  days  in  the  year."  1 
If  the  Reglement  organique  of  the  Danubian  provinces  was 
a  positive  expression  of  the  greed  for  surplus-labour  which 
every  paragraph  legalised,  the  English  Factory  Acts  are  the 
negative  expression  of  the  same  greed.  These  acts  curb  the 
passion  of  capital  for  a  limitless  draining  of  labour-power,  by 
forcibly  limiting  the  working  day  by  state  regulations,  made 
by  a  state  that  is  ruled  by  capitalist  and  landlord.  Apart  from 
the  working-class  movement  that  daily  grew  more  threatening, 
the  limiting  of  factory  labour  was  dictated  by  the  same  neces- 

1  Further  details  are  to  be  found  in  E.  Regnault's  "Histoire  politique  et  sociale  des 
Principautes  Danubiennes."     Paris,  1855. 

264  Capitalist  Production. 

sity  which  spread  guano  over  the  English  fields.  The  same 
blind  eagerness  for  plunder  that  in  the  one  case  exhausted  the 
soil,  had,  in  the  other,  torn  up  by  the  roots  the  living  force  of 
the  nation.  Periodical  epidemics  speak  on  this  point  as 
clearly  as  the  diminishing  military  standard  in  Germany  and 

The  Factory  Act  of  1850  now  in  force  (1867)  allows  for  the 
average  working-day  10  hours,  i.e.,  for  the  first  5  days  12 
hours  from  6  a.m.  to  6  p.m.,  including  \  an  hour  for  breakfast, 
and  an  hour  for  dinner,  and  thus  leaving  10^  working  hours, 
and  8  hours  for  Saturday,  from  6  a.m.  to  2  p.m.,  of  which  -| 
an  hour  is  subtracted  for  breakfast.  60  working  hours  are 
left,  10^  for  each  of  the  first  5  days,  7|  for  the  last.2  Certain 
guardians  of  these  laws  are  appointed,  Factory  Inspectors,  di- 
rectly under  the  Home  Secretary,  whose  reports  are  published 
half-yearly  by  order  of  Parliament.  They  give  regular  and 
official  statistics  of  the  capitalistic  greed  for  surplus-labour. 

Let  us  listen,  for  a  moment,  to  the  Factory  Inspectors.3 

1  "In  general  and  within  certain  limits,  exceeding  the  medium  size  of  their  kind, 
is  evidence  of  the  prosperity  of  organic  beings.  As  to  man,  his  bodily  height  lessens 
if  his  due  growth  is  interfered  with,  either  by  physical  or  social  conditions.  In  all 
European  countries  in  which  the  conscription  holds,  since  its  introduction,  the 
medium  height  of  adult  men,  and  generally  their  fitness  for  military  service,  has 
diminished.  Before  the  revolution  (1789),  the  minimum  for  the  infantry  in  France 
was  165  centimetres;  in  1818  (law  of  March  10th),  157;  by  the  law  of  1852,  156 
c.  m. ;  on  the  average  in  France  more  than  half  are  rejected  on  account  of  deficient 
height  or  bodily  weakness.  The  military  standard  in  Saxony  was  in  1780,  178  c.  m. 
It  is  now  155.  In  Prussia  it  is  157.  According  to  the  statement  of  Dr.  Meyer  in 
the  Bavarian  Gazette,  May  9th,  1862,  the  result  of  an  average  of  9  years  is,  that  in 
Prussia  out  of  1000  conscripts  716  were  unfit  for  military  service,  317  because  of 
deficiency  in  height,  and  399  because  of  bodily  defects.  .  .  .  Berlin  in  1858, 
could  not  provide  its  contingent  of  recruits;  it  was  156  men  short."  J.  von  Liebig: 
"Die  Chemie  in  ihrer  Anwendung  auf  Agrikultur  und  Physiologie,  1863,"  7th  Ed., 
vol  1.,  pp.  117,  118. 

2  The  history  of  the  Factoiy  Act  of  1850  will  be  found  in  the  course  of  this 

3  I  only  touch  here  and  there  on  the  period  from  the  beginning  of  modern  in- 
dustry in  England  to  1845.  For  this  period  I  refer  the  reader  to  "Die  Lage  der 
arbeitenden  Klasse  in  England,  von  Friedrich  Engels,  Leipzig,  1845."  How  com- 
pletely Engels  understood  the  nature  of  the  capitalist  mode  of  production  is  shown 
by  the  Factory  Reports,  Reports  on  Mines,  &c,  that  have  appeared  since  1845,  and 
how  wonderfully  he  painted  the  circumstances  in  detail  is  seen  on  the  most  super- 
ficial comparison  of  his  work  with  the  official  reports  of  the  Children's  Employment 
Commission,  published  18  to  20  years  later  (1863-1867).  These  deal  especially  with 
the  branches  of  industry  in  which  the  Factory  Acts  had  not,  up  to  1862,  been  intro- 
duced, in  fact  are  not  yet  introduced.  Here,  then,  little  or  no  alteration  had  been 
enforced,  by  authority,  in  the  conditions  painted  by  Engels.     I  borrow  my  examples 

The  Working  Day.  265J 

"The  fraudulent  millowner  begins  work  at  a  quarter  of  an  hour 
(sometimes  more,  sometimes  less)  before  6  a.m.,  and  leaves  off 
a  quarter  of  an  hour  (sometimes  more,  sometimes  less)  after 
6  p.m.  He  takes  5  minutes  from  the  beginning  and  from  the 
end  of  the  half  hour  nominally  allowed  for  breakfast,  and  10 
minutes  at  the  beginning  and  end  of  the  hour  nominally  al- 
lowed for  dinner.  He  works  for  a  quarter  of  an  hour  (some- 
times more,  sometimes  less  after  2  p.m.  on  Saturday.  Thus 
his  gain  is 

Before  6  a.  m 15  minutes. 

After  6  p.  m 15 

At   breakfast   time 10 

At  dinner  time . .    20 

Five  days — 300  minutes. 

On  Saturday  before  6  a.  m 15  minutes. 

At  breakfast  time 10 

After  2  p.  m . .. 15         " 

40  minutes. 
Total  weekly 340  minutes. 

Or  5  hours  and  40  minutes  weekly,  which  multiplied  by  50 
working  weeks  in  the  year  (allowing  two  for  holidays  and 
occasional  stoppages)  is  equal  to  27  working  days."  1 

"Five  minutes  a  day's  increased  work,  multiplied  by  50 
weeks,  are  equal  to  two  and  a  half  days  of  produce  in  the 
year."  2 

"An  additional  hour  a  day  gained  by  small  instalments  be- 
fore 6  a.m.,  after  6  p.m.,  and  at  the  beginning  and  end  of  the 

chiefly  from  the  free  trade  period  after  1848,  that  age  of  paradise,  of  which  the 
commercial  travellers  for  the  great  firm  of  free  trade,  blatant  as  ignorant,  tell  such 
fabulous  tales.  For  the  rest  England  figures  here  in  the  forground  because  she  is 
the  classic  representative  of  capitalist  production,  and  she  alone  has  a  continuous 
set  of  official  statistics  of  the  things  we  are  considering. 

1  Suggestions,  &c.  by  Mr.  L.  Horner,  Inspector  of  Factories  in:  Factory  Regula- 
tions Act.  Ordered  by  the  House  of  Commons  to  be  printed,  9th  August,  1859? 
p.  4,  5. 

2  Reports  of  the  Inspector  of  Factories  for  the  half  year,  October,  J  856,  p.  35. 

266  ■      Capitalist  Production. 

times  nominally  fixed  for  meals,  is  nearly  equivalent  to  work- 
ing 13  months  in  the  year."1 

Crises  during  which  production  is  interrupted  and  the  fac- 
tories work  "short  time,"  i.e.,  for  only  a  part  of  the  week, 
naturally  do  not  affect  the  tendency  to  extend  the  working 
day.  The  less  business  there  is,  the  more  profit  has  to  be  made 
on  the  business  done.  The  less  time  spent  in  work,  the  more 
of  that  time  has  to  be  turned  into  surplus  labour-time. 

Thus  the  Factory  Inspector's  report  on  the  period  of  the 
crisis  from  1857  to  1858  : 

"It  may  seem  inconsistent  that  there  should  be  any  over- 
working at  a  time  when  trade  is  so  bad ;  but  that  very  bad- 
ness leads  to  the  transgression  by  unscrupulous  men,  they  get 

the  extra  profit  of  it In  the  last  half  year,  says  Leonard 

Horner,  122  mills  in  my  district  have  been  given  up ;  143  were 
found  standing,"  yet,  overwork  is  continued  beyond  the  legal 

"For  a  great  part  of  the  time,"  says  Mr.  Howell,  "owing  to 
the  depression  of  trade,  many  factories  were  altogether  closed, 
and  a  still  greater  number  were  working  short  time.  I  continue, 
however,  to  receive  about  the  usual  number  of  complaints  that 
half,  or  three-quarters  of  an  hour  in  the  day,  are  snatched  from 
the  workers  by  encroaching  upon  the  times  professedly  allowed 
for  rest  and  refreshment."  3  The  same  phenomenon  was  repro- 
duced on  a  smaller  scale  during  the  frightful  cotton-crisis  from 
1861  to  1865. 4  "It  is  sometimes  advanced  by  way  of  excuse, 
when  persons  are  found  at  work  in  a  factory,  either  at  a  meal 
hour,  or  at  some  illegal  time,  that  they  will  not  leave  the  mill  at 
the  appointed  hour,  and  that  compulsion  is  necessary  to  force 
them  to  cease  work  [cleaning  their  machinery,  &c],  especially 
on  Saturday  afternoons.  But,  if  the  hands  remain  in  a  factory 
after  the  machinery  has  ceased  to  revolve  .  .  .  they  would  not 
have  been  so  employed  if  sufficient  time  had  been  set  apart 

1  Reports,   &c,  30th  April,   1858,   p.  9. 

2  Reports,  &c.,  I.  c.,  p.   43. 
8  Reports,  &c,  1.  c.,  p.   25. 

♦Reports,  &c,  for  the  half  year  ending  30th  April,  1861.  See  Appendix  No.  2; 
Reports,  &c.,  31st  October,  1862,  p.  7,  52,  53.  The  violations  of  the  Acts  became 
more  numerous  during  the  last  half  year  1863.  Cf.  Reports,  &c,  ending  31st 
October,  1863,  p.  7. 

The  Working  Day.  267 

specially  for  cleaning,  &c.,  either  before  6  a.m.  [sic!~\  or  before 
2  p.  m.  on  Saturday  afternoons."1 

"The  profit  to  be  gained  by  it  (over-working  in  violation  of 
the  Act)  appears  to  be,  to  many,  a  greater  temptation  than  they 
can  resist ;  they  calculate  upon  the  chance  of  not  being  found 
out ;  and  when  they  see  the  small  amount  of  penalty  and  costs, 
which  those  who  have  been  convicted  have  had  to  pay,  they 
find  that  if  they  should  be  detected  there  will  still  be  a  con- 
siderable balance  of  gain.  .  .  ?  In  cases  where  the  additional 
time  is  gained  by  a  multiplication  of  small  thefts  in  the  course 
of  the  day,  there  are  insuperable  difficulties  to  the  inspectors 
making  out  a  case."3 

These  "small  thefts"  of  capital  from  the  labourer's  meal  and 
recreation  time,  the  factory  inspectors  also  designate  as  "petty 
pilfering  of  minutes,"4  "snatching  a  few  minutes,"5  or,  as 
the  labourers  technically  called  them,  "nibbling  and  cribbling 
at  meal  times."6 

It  is  evident  that  in  this  atmosphere  the  formation  of  sur- 
plus-value by  surplus-labour,  is  not  secret.  "If  you  allow  me," 
said  a  highly  respectable  master,  to  me,  "to  work  only  ten  min- 
utes in  the  day  over-time,  you  put  one  thousand  a  year  in  my 
pocket."7     "Moments  are  the  elements  of  profit."8 

1  Reports,  &c,  October  31st,  1860,  p.  23.  With  what  fanaticism,  according  to  the 
evidence  of  manufacturers  given  in  courts  of  law,  their  hands  set  themselves  against 
every  interruption  in  factory  labour,  the  following  curious  circumstance  shows.  In 
the  beginning  of  June,  1836,  information  reached  the  magistrates  of  Dewsbury 
(Yorkshire)  that  the  owners  of  8  large  mills  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Batley  had 
violated  the  Factory  Acts.  Some  of  these  gentlemen  were  accused  of  having  kept 
at  work  5  boys  between  12  and  15  years  of  age,  from  6  a.m.  on  Friday  to  4  p.m.  on 
the  following  Saturday,  not  allowing  them  any  respite  except  for  meals  and  one 
hour  for  sleep  at  midnight.  And  these  children  had  to  do  this  ceaseless  labour  of 
30  hours  in  the  "shoddy-hole,"  as  the  hole  is  called,  in  which  the  woolen  rags  are 
pulled  in  pieces,  and  where  a  dense  atmosphere  of  dust,  shreds,  &c,  forces  even  the 
adult  workman  to  cover  his  mouth  continually  with  handkerchiefs  for  the  protec- 
tion of  his  lungs!  The  accused  gentlemen  affirm  in  lieu  of  taking  an  oath — as 
quakers  they  were  too  scrupulously  religious  to  take  an  oath — that  they  had,  in  their 
great  compassion  for  the  unhappy  children,  allowed  them  four  hours  for  sleep,  but 
the  obstinate  children  absolutely  woulc  not  go  to  bed.  The  quaker  gentlemen 
were  mulcted  in  £20.  Dryden  anticipated  these  gentry: 
"Fox  full  fraught  in  seeming  sanctity, 
That  feared  an  oath,  but  like  the  devil  would  lie, 
That  look'd  like  Lent,  and  had  the  holy  leer, 
And  durst  not  sinl   before  he  said  his  prayer!" 

sRep.,  31st  Oct.,   1856,  p.   34.      *1.  c.  p.,  p.  48.  •  1.  c,   p.  48. 

•1.   c,    p.    35.  Bl.   c,   p.    48.  71.  c,  p.   48. 

8  Report  of  the  Insp.,  &c,  30th  April,  1860,  p.   56. 

268  Capitalist  Production. 

Nothing  is  from  this  point  of  view  more  characteristic  than 
the  designation  of  the  workers  who  work  full  time  as  "full- 
timers,"  and  the  children  under  13  who  are  only  allowed  to 
work  6  hours  as  "half-timers."  The  worker  is  here  nothing 
more  than  personified  labour-time.  All  individual  distinctions 
are  merged  in  those  of  "full-timers"  and  "half-timers."1 



We  have  hitherto  considered  the  tendency  to  the  extension  of 
the  working  day,  the  were-wolf's  hunger  for  surplus-labour  in 
a  department  where  the  monstrous  exactions,  not  surpassed, 
says  an  English  bourgeois  economist,  by  the  cruelties  of  the 
Spaniards  to  the  American  red-skins,2  caused  capital  at  last  to 
be  bound  by  the  chains  of  legal  regulations.  Now,  let  us  cast 
a  glance  at  certain  branches  of  production  in  which  the  exploi- 
tation of  labour  is  either  free  from  fetters  to  this  day,  or  was 
so  yesterday. 

Mr.  Broughton  Charlton,  county  magistrate,  declared  as 
chairman  of  a  meeting  held  at  the  Assembly  Rooms,  Notting- 
ham, on  the  14th  of  January,  1860,  "that  there  was  an  amount 
of  privation  and  suffering  among  that  portion  of  the  popula- 
tion connected  with  the  lace  trade,  unknown  in  other  parts  of 
the  kingdom,  indeed,  in  the  civilized  world  .  .  .  Children  of 
nine  or  ten  years  are  dragged  from  their  squalid  beds  at  two, 
three,  or  four  o'clock  in  the  morning  and  compelled  to  work  for 
a  bare  subsistence  until  ten,  eleven,  or  twelve  at  night,  their 
limbs  wearing  away,  their  frames  dwindling,  their  faces 
whitening,  and  their  humanity  absolutely  sinking  into  a  stone- 
like torpor,  utterly  horrible  to  contemplate We  are  not 

surprised  that  Mr.  Mallett,  or  any  other  manufacturer,  should 
stand  forward  and  protest  against  discussion The 

1  This   is  the  official  expression   both  in  the   factories   and  in  the   reports. 

2  "The  cupidity  of  mill-owners  whose  cruelties  in  the  pursuit  of  gain  have  hardly 
been  exceeded  by  those  perpetrated  by  the  Spaniards  in  the  conquest  of  America  in 
the  pursuit  of  gold."  John  Wade,  History  of  the  Middle  and  Working  Classes,  3rd 
Ed.  London,  1835,  p.  114.  The  theoretical  part  of  this  book,  a  kind  of  hand-book  of 
Political  Economy,  is,  considering  the  time  of  its  publication,  original  in  some  parts. 
e.g.,  on  commercial  crises.  The  historical  part  is,  to  a  great  extent,  a  shameless 
plagiarism  of  Sir  F.  M.  Eden's  "History  of  the  Poor,"  London,  1799. 

The  Working  Day.  269 

system,  as  the  Rev.  Montagu  Valpy  describes  it,  is  one  of 
unmitigated  slavery,  socially,  physically,  morally,  and  spirit- 
ually  What  can  be  thought  of  a  town  which  holds  a  public 

meeting  to  petition  that  the  period  of  labour  for  men  shall  be 

diminished  to  eighteen  hours  a  day  ? We  declaim 

against  the  Virginian  and  Carolina  cotton-planters.  Is  their 
black-market,  their  lash,  and  their  barter  of  human  flesh  more 
detestable  than  this  slow  sacrifice  of  humanity  which  takes 
place  in  order  that  veils  and  collars  may  be  fabricated  for  the 
benefit  of  capitalists  Vn 

The  potteries  of  Staffordshire  have,  during  the  last  22  years, 
been  the  subject  of  three  parliamentary  inquiries.  The  result 
is  embodied  in  Mr.  Scriven's  Report  of  1841  to  the  "Children's 
Employment  Commissioners,"  in  the  report  of  Dr.  Greenhow 
of  1860  published  by  order  of  the  medical  officer  of  the  Privy 
Council  (Public  Health,  3rd  Report,  112-113),  lastly,  in  the 
report  of  Mr.  Longe  of  1862  in  the  "First  Report  of  the 
Children's  Employment  Commission,  of  the  13th  June,  1863." 
For  my  purpose  it  is  enough  to  take,  from  the  reports  of  1860 
and  1863,  some  depositions  of  the  exploited  children  them- 
selves. Prom  the  children  we  may  form  an  opinion  as  to  the 
adults,  especially  the  girls  and  women,  and  that  in  a  branch  of 
industry  by  the  side  of  which  cotton-spinning  appears  an  agree- 
able and  healthful  occupation.2 

William  Wood,  9  years  old,  was  7  years  and  10  months  when 
he  began  to  work.  He  "ran  moulds"  (carried  ready-moulded 
articles  into  the  drying  room,  afterwards  bringing  back  the 
empty  mould)  from  the  beginning.  He  came  to  work  every 
day  in  the  week  at  6  a.m.,  and  left  off  about  9  p.m.  "I  work 
till  9  o'clock  at  night  six  days  in  the  week.  I  have  done  so 
seven  or  eight  weeks."  Fifteen  hours  of  labour  for  a  child  of 
7  years  old !  J.  Murray,  12  years  of  age,  says :  "I  turn  jigger, 
and  run  moulds.  I  come  at  6.  Sometimes  I  come  at  4.  I 
worked  all  last  night,  till  6  o'clock  this  morning.  I  have  not 
been  in  bed  since  the  night  before  last.  There  were  eight  or 
nine  other  boys  working  last  night.     All  but  one  have  come  this 

1  "Daily  Telegraph,"  17th  January,  1860. 
*Cf.  F.  Engels'  Lage,  etc.,  p.  249-51. 

270  Capitalist  Production. 

morning.  I  get  3  shillings  and  sixpence.  I  do  not  get  any 
more  for  working  at  night.  I  worked  two  nights  last  week." 
Ferny  hough,  a  boy  of  ten:  "I  have  not  always  an  hour  (for 
dinner).  I  have  only  half  an  hour  sometimes;  on  Thursday, 
Friday,  and  Saturday."1 

Dr.  Greenhow  states  that  the  average  duration  of  life  in  the 
pottery  districts  of  Stoke-on-Trent,  and  Wolstanton  is  ex- 
traordinarily short.  Although  in  the  district  of  Stoke,  only 
36.6%  and  in  Wolstanton  only  30.4%  of  the  adult  male 
population  above  20  are  employed  in  the  potteries,  among  the 
men  of  that  age  in  the  first  district  more  than  half,  in  the 
second,  nearly  §  of  the  whole  deaths  are  the  result  of  pul- 
monary diseases  among  the  potters.  Dr.  Boothroyd,  a  medical 
practitioner  at  Hanley,  says :  "Each  successive  generation  of 
potters  is  more  dwarfed  and  less  robust  than  the  preceding 
one."  In  like  manner  another  doctor,  Mr.  M'Bean  :  "Since  he 
began  to  practise  among  the  potters  25  years  ago,  he  has  ob- 
served a  marked  degeneration  especially  shown  in  diminution 
of  stature  and  breadth."  These  statements  are  taken  from  the 
report  of  Dr.  Greenhow  in  I860.2 

From  the  report  of  the  Commissioners  in  1863,  the  follow- 
ing: Dr.  J.  T.  Arledge,  senior  physician  of  the  North  Staf- 
fordshire Infirmary,  says:  "The  potters  as  a  class,  both  men 
and  women,  represent  a  degenerated  population,  both  phys- 
ically and  morally.  They  are,  as  a  rule,  stunted  in  growth, 
ill-shaped,  and  frequently  ill-formed  in  the  chest ;  they  become 
prematurely  old,  and  are  certainly  short-lived ;  they  are 
phlegmatic  and  bloodless,  and  exhibit  their  debility  of  consti- 
tution by  obstinate  attacks  of  dyspepsia,  and  disorders  of  the 
liver  and  kidneys,  and  by  rheumatism.  But  of  all  diseases 
they  are  especially  prone  to  chest-disease,  to  pneumonia, 
phthisis,  bronchitis,  and  asthma.  One  form  would  appear  pe- 
culiar to  them,  and  is  known  as  potter's  asthma,  or  potter's 
consumption.  Scrofula  attacking  the  glands,  or  bones,  or  other 
parts  of  the  body,  is  a  disease  of  two-thirds  or  more  of  the 

1  Children's    Employment   Commission.     First   report,   etc.,    1863.     Evidence,   p.   16, 
19,  18. 

2  Public   Health,  3rd  report,  etc.,   p.   102,   104,    105. 

The  Working  Day.  2ji 

potters That  the  'degenerescence'  of  the  population  of 

this  district  is  not  even  greater  than  it  is,  is  due  to  the  constant 
recruiting  from  the  adjacent  country,  and  intermarriages  with 
more  healthy  races."1 

Mr.  Charles  Parsons,  late  house  surgeon  of  the  same  institu- 
tion, writes  in  a  letter  to  Commissioner  Longe,  amongst  other 
things:  "I  can  only  speak  from  personal  observation  and  not 
from  statistical  data(  but  I  do  not  hesitate  to  assert  that  my 
indignation  has  been  aroused  again  and  again  at  the  sight  of 
poor  children  whose  health  has  been  sacrificed  to  gratify  the 
avarice  of  either  parents  or  employers."  He  enumerates  the 
causes  of  the  diseases  of  the  potters,  and  sums  them  up  in  the 
phrase,  "long  hours."  The  report  of  the  Commission  trusts 
that  "a  manufacture  which  has  assumed  so  prominent  a  place 
in  the  whole  world,  will  not  long  b?  subject  to  the  remark  that 
its  great  success  is  accompanied  with  the  physical  deterioration, 
wide-spread  bodily  suffering,  and  early  death  of  the  work- 
people .  .  by  whose  labour  and  skill  such  great  results  have 
been  achieved."2  And  all  that  holds  of  the  potteries  in  Eng- 
land is  true  of  those  in  Scotland.3 

The  manufacture  of  lucifer  matches  dates  from  1833,  from 
the  discovery  of  the  method  of  applying  phosphorus  to  the 
match  itself.  Since  1845  this  manufacture  has  rapidly  devel- 
oped in  England,  and  has  extended  especially  amongst  the 
thickly  populated  parts  of  London  as  well  as  in  Manchester, 
Birmingham,  Liverpool,  Bristol,  Norwich,  Newcastle  and  Glas- 
gow. With  it  has  spread  the  form  of  lockjaw,  which  a  Vienna 
physician  in  1845  discovered  to  be  a  disease  peculiar  to  lucifer- 
matchmakers.  Half  the  workers  are  children  under  thirteen, 
and  young  persons  under  eighteen.  The  manufacture  is  on 
account  of  its  iinhealthiness  and  unpleasantness  in  such  bad 
odour  that  only  the  most  miserable  part  of  the  labouring  class, 
half-starved  widows  and  so  forth,  deliver  up  their  children 
to  it,  "the  ragged,  half-starved,  untaught  children."4 

Of    the    witnesses    that    Commissioner    White    examined 

1  Child.    Empl.    Comm.    I.    Report,    p.    24. 

*  Children's   Employment   Commission,  p.   22,   and  xi. 

1 1.   c.   p.   xlvii. 

4  L  c.  p.  liv. 

272  Capitalist  Production. 

(1863),  270  were  under  18,  50  under  10,  10  only  8,  and  5 
only  6  years  old.  A  range  of  the  working  day  from  12  to  14 
or  15  hours,  night-labour,  irregular  meal  times,  meals  for  the 
most  part  taken  in  the  very  workrooms  that  are  pestilent  with 
phosphorus.  Dante  would  have  found  the  worst  horrors  of  his 
Inferno  surpassed  in  this  manufacture. 

In  the  manufacture  of  paper-hangings  the  coarser  sorts  are 
printed  by  machine;  the  finer  by  hand  (block-printing).  The 
most  active  business  months  are  from  the  beginning  of  October 
to  the  end  of  April.  During  this  time  the  work  goes  on  fast 
and  furious  without  intermission  from  6  a.m.  to  10  p.m.  or 
further  into  the  night. 

J.  Leach  deposes:  "Last  winter  six  out  of  nineteen  girls 
were  away  from  ill-health  at  one  time  from  over-work.  I  have 
to  bawl  at  them  to  keep  them  awake."  W.  Duffy:  "I  have 
seen  when  the  children  could  none  of  them  keep  their  eyes 
open  for  the  work ;  indeed,  none  of  us  could."  J.  Lightbourne : 
"Am  13  .  .  .  We  worked  last  winter  till  9  (evening),  and  the 
winter  before  till  10.  I  used  to  cry  with  sore  feet  every  night 
last  winter."  G.  Apsden :  "That  boy  of  mine  .  .  .  when  he 
was  7  years  old  I  used  to  carry  him  on  my  back  to  and  fro 
through  the  snow,  and  he  used  to  have  16  hours  a  day  ...  I 
have  often  knelt  down  to  feed  him  as  he  stood  by  the  machine, 
for  he  could  not  leave  it  or  stop."  Smith,  the  managing 
partner  of  a  Manchester  factory :  "We  (he  means  his  "hands" 
who  work  for  "us") work  on,  with  no  stoppage  for  meals,  so 
that  the  day's  work  of  10^  hours  is  finished  by  4.30.  p.m.,  and 
all  after  that  is  overtime."1  (Does  this  Mr.  Smith  take  no 
meals  himself  during  104-  hours  ?)  "We  (this  same  Smith) 
seldom  leave  off  working  before  6  p.m.  (he  means  leave  off  the 
consumption  of  'our'  labour-power  machines),  so  that  we 
(iterum  Crispinus)  are  really  working  overtime  the  whole  year 
round For  all  these,  children  and  adults  alike  (152 

1  This  is  not  to  be  taken  in  the  same  sense  as  our  surplus-labour  time.  These 
gentlemen  consider  10^4  hours  of  labour  as  the  normal  working  day,  which  includes 
of  course  the  normal  surplus-labour.  After  this  begins  "overtime"  which  is  paid  a 
little  better.  It  will  be  seen  later  that  the  labour  expended  during  the  so-called 
normal  day  is  paid  below  its  value,  so  that  the  overtime  is  simply  a  capitalist  trick 
in  order  to  extort  more  surplus-labor,  which  it  would  still  be,  even  if  the  labour- 
power  expended  during  the  normal  working  day  were  properly  paid. 

The  Working  Day.  273 

children  and  young  persons  and  140  adults),  the  average  work 
for  the  last  18  months  has  been  at  the  very  least  7  days,  5 
hours,  or  78|  hours  a  week.  For  the  six  weeks  ending  May 
2nd  this  year  (1862),  the  average  was  higher — 8  days  or  84 
hours  a  week."  Still  this  spme  Mr.  Sm'th,  who  is  so  extremely 
devoted  to  the  pluralis  majestatis,  adds  vith  r.  smile,  "Machine 
work  is  not  great."  So  the  employers  in  the  block-printing 
say :  "Hand  labour  is  more  healthy  than  machine-work."  On 
the  whole,  manufacturers  declare  with  indignation  against  the 
proposal  "to  stop  the  n  achines  at  least  during  meal  times/ 
A  clause,  says  Mr.  Otley,  manager  of  a  wall-paper  factory  in 
the  Borough,  "which  allowed  work  between,  say  6  a.m.  and  9 
p.m.  .  .  .  would  suit  us  (!)  very  well,  but  the  factory  hour3,  6 
a.m.  to  6  p.m.,  are  not  suitable.  Our  machine  is  always 
stopped  for  dinner.  (What  generosity!)  There  is  no  waste 
of  paper  and  colour  to  speak  of.  But,"  he  adds  sympatheti- 
cally, "I  can  understand  the  loss  of  time  not  being  liked/ 
The  report  of  the  Commission  opines  with  naivete  that  the 
fear  of  some  "leading  firms"  of  losing  time,  i.e.,  the  time  for 
appropriating  the  labour  of  others,  and  thence  losing  profit 
is  not  a  sufficient  reason  for  allowing  children  under  13,  and 
young  persons  under  18,  working  12  to  16  hours  per  day,  to 
lose  their  dinner,  nor  for  giving  it  to  them  as  coal  and  water 
are  supplied  to  the  steam-engine,  soap  to  wool,  oil  to  the 
wheel — as  merely  auxiliary  material  to  the  instruments  of 
labour,  during  the  process  of  production  itself.1 

No  branch  of  industry  in  England  (we  do  not  take  into 
account  the  making  of  bread  by  machinery  recently  intro- 
duced) has  preserved  up  to  the  present  day  a  method  of  pro- 
duction so  archaic,  so — as  we  see  from  the  poets  of  the  Roman 
Empire — pre-christian,  as  baking.  But  capital,  as  was  said 
earlier,  is  at  first  indifferent  as  to  the  technical  character  of  the 
labour-process ;  it  begins  by  taking  it  ju?t  as  it  finds  it. 

The  incredible  adulteration  of  bread;  especially  in  London, 
was  first  revealed  by  the  House  of  Commons  Committee  "on 
the   adulteration   of   articles   of   food*'    (1855-56),    and   Dr. 

M.  c.     Evidence,  p.  123,  124,  125,  140,  and  54. 


274  Capitalist  Production. 

HassalFs  work,  "Adulterations  detected."1  The  consequence 
of  these  revelations  was  the  Act  of  August  6th,  1860,  "for 
preventing  the  adulteration  of  articles  of  food  and  drink,"  an 
inoperative  law,  as  it  naturally  shows  the  tenderest  consider- 
ation for  every  free-trader  who  determines  by  the  buying  or 
selling  of  adulterated  connnodities  "to  turn  an  honest  penny."2 
The  Committee  itself  formulated  more  or  less  naively  its  con- 
viction that  free-trade  meant  essentially  trade  with  adulter- 
ated, or  as  the  English  ingeniously  put  it,  "sophisticated" 
goods.  In  fact  this  kind  of  sophistry  knows  better  than  Prota- 
goras how  to  make  white  black,  and  black  white,  and  better 
than  the  Eleatics  how  to  demonstrate  ad  oculos  that  everything 
is  only  appearance.3 

At  all  events  the  committee  had  directed  the  attention  of 
the  public  to  its  "daily  bread,"  and  therefore  to  the  baking 
trade.  At  the  same  time  in  public  meetings  and  in  petitions 
to  Parliament  rose  the  cry  of  the  London  journeymen  bakers 
against  their  over-work,  &c.  The  cry  was  so  urgent  that  Mr. 
H.  S.  Tremenheere,  also  a  member  of  the  Commission  of  1863 
several  times  mentioned,  was  appointed  Royal  Commissioner 
of  Inquiry.  His  report,4  together  with  the  evidence  given, 
roused  not  the  heart  of  the  public  but  its  stomach.  English- 
men, always  well  up  in  the  Bible,  knew  well  enough  that  man, 
unless  by  elective  grace  a  capitalist,  or  landlord,  or  sinecurist, 

1  Alum  finely  powdered,  or  mixed  with  salt,  is  a  normal  article  of  commerce  bear- 
ing the  significant  name  of  "bakers'  stuff." 

2  Soot  is  a  well-known  and  very  energetic  form  of  carbon,  and  forms  a  manure 
that  capitalistic  chimney-sweeps  sell  to  English  farmers.  Now  in  1862  the  British 
juryman  had  in  a  law-suit  to  decide  whether  soot,  with  which,  unknown  to  the 
buyer  90%  of  dust  and  sand  are  mixed,  is  genuine  soot  in  the  commercial  sense  or 
adulterated  soot  in  the  legal  sense.  The  "amis  du  commerce"  decided  it  to  be 
genuine  commercial  soot,  and  non-suited  the  plaintiff  farmer,  who  had  in  addition 
to  pay  the  costs  of  the  suit. 

3  The  French  chemist,  Chevallier,  in  his  treatise  on  the  "sophistications"  of 
commodities,  enumerates  for  many  of  the  600  or  more  articles  which  he  passes  in 
review,  10,  20,  30  different  methods  of  adulteration.  He  adds  that  he  does  not  know 
all  the  methods,  and  does  not  mention  all  that  he  knows.  He  gives  6  kinds  of 
adulteration  of  sugar,  9  of  olive  oil,  10  of  butter,  12  of  salt,  19  of  milk,  20  of 
bread,  23  of  brandy,  24  of  meal,  28  of  chocolate,  30  of  wine,  32  of  coffee,  etc. 
Even  God  Almighty  does  not  escape  this  fate.  See  Ronard  de  Card,  on  the  falsifi- 
cations of  the  materials  of  the  Sacrament.  (De  la  falsification  des  substances  sacra 
mentelles,  Paris,  1856.) 

*  "Report,  &c,  relating  to  the  grievances  complained  of  by  the  journeymen  bakers 
&Cti  London,  1862,"  and  "Second  Report  &c,  London,  1863." 

The  Working  Day.  275 

is  commanded  to  eat  his  bread  in  the  sweat  of  his  brow,  but 
they  did  -not  know  that  he  had  to  eat  daily  in  his  bread  a  certain 
quantity  of  human  perspiration  mixed  with  the  discharge  of 
abcesses,  cobwebs,  dead  black-beetles,  and  putrid  German  yeast, 
without  counting  alum,  sand,  and  other  agreeable  mineral  in- 
gredients. Without  any  regard  to  his  holiness,  Preetrade,  the 
free  baking-trade  was  therefore  placed  under  the  supervision 
of  the  State  inspectors  (Close  of  th>  Parliamentary  session  of 
1863),  and  by  the  same  Act  of  Parliament,  work  from  9  in  the 
evening  to  5  in  the  morning  was  forbidden  for  journeymen 
bakers  under  18.  The  last  clause  speaks  volumes  as  to  the 
over-work  in  this  old-fashioned,  homely  line  of  business. 

"The  work  of  a  London  journeyman  baker  begins,  as  a  rule, 
at  about  eleven  at  night.  At  that  hour  he  'makes  the  dough/ 
■ — a  laborious  process,  which  lasts  from  half-an-hour  to  three 
quarters  of  an  hour,  according  to  the  size  of  the  batch  or  the 
labour  bestowed  upon  it.  He  then  lies  down  upon  the  knead- 
ing-board,  which  is  also  the  covering  of  the  trough  in  which 
the  dough  is  'made ;'  and  with  a  sack  under  him,  and  another 
rolled  up  as  a  pillow,  he  sleeps  for  about  a  couple  of  hours. 
He  is  then  engaged  in  a  rapid  and  continuous  labour  for  about 
five  hours — throwing  out  the  dough,  'scaling  it  off/  moulding 
it,  putting  it  into  the  oven,  preparing  and  baking  rolls  and 
fancy  bread,  taking  the  batch  bread  out  of  the  oven,  and  up 
into  the  shop,  &c,  &c.  The  temperature  of  a  bakehouse  ranges 
from  about  75  to  upwards  of  90  degrees,  and  in  the  smaller 
bakehouses  approximates  usually  to  the  higher  rather  than  to 
the  lower  degree  of  heat.  When  the  business  of  making  the 
bread,  rolls,  &c,  is  over,  that  of  its  distribution  begins,  and  a 
considerable  proportion  of  the  journeymen  in  the  trade,  after 
working  hard  in  the  manner  described  during  the  night,  are 
upon  their  legs  for  many  hours  during  the  day,  carrying  bas- 
kets, or  wheeling  hand-carts,  and  sometimes  again  in  the  bake- 
house, leaving  off  work  at  various  hours  between  1  and  6  p.m. 
according  to  the  season  of  the  year,  or  the  amount  and  nature 
of  their  master's  business ;  while  others  are  again  engaged  in 
the  bakehouse  in  'bringing  out'  more  batches  until  late  in  the 

sy6  Capitalist  Production. 

afternoon.1  .  .  .  During  what  is  called  'the  London  season,'  the 
operatives  belonging  to  the  'full-priced'  bakers  at  the  West 
End  of  the  town,  generally  begin  work  at  11  p.m.,  and  are  en- 
gaged in  making  the  bread,  with  one  or  two  short  (sometimes 
very  short)  intervals  of  rest,  up  to  8  o'clock  the  next  morning. 
They  are  then  engaged  all  day  long,  up  to  4,  5,  6,  and  as  late 
as  7  o'clock  in  the  evening  carrying  out  bread,  or  sometimes  in 
the  afternoon  in  the  bakehouse  again,  assisting  in  the  biscuit- 
baking.  They  may  have,  after  they  have  done  their  work, 
sometimes  five  or  six,  sometimes  only  four  or  five  hours'  sleep 
before  they  begin  again.  On  Fridays  they  always  begin 
sooner,  some  about  ten  o'clock,  and  continue  in  some  cases,  at 
work,  either  in  making  or  delivering  the  bread  up  to  8  p.m.  on 
Saturday  night,  but  more  generally  up  to  4  or  5  o'clock, 
Sunday  morning.  On  Sundays  the  men  must  attend  twice  or 
three  times  during  the  day  for  an  hour  or  two  to  make  prepa- 
rations for  the  next  day's  bread The  men  employed 

by  the  underselling  masters  (who  sell  their  bread  under  the 
'full  price,'  and  who,  as  already  pointed  out,  comprise  three- 
fourths  of  the  London  bakers)  have  not  only  to  work  on  the 
average  longer  hours,  but  their  work  is  almost  entirely  confined 
to  the  bakehouse.  The  underselling  masters  generally  sell  their 
bread  ....  in  the  shop.  If  they  send  it  out,  which  is  not  com- 
mon, except  as  supplying  chandlers'"  shops,  they  usually  employ 
other  hands  for  that  purpose.    It  is  not  their  practice  to  deliver 

bread  from  house  to  house.     Towards  the  end  of  the  week 

the  men  begin  on  Thursday  night  at  10  o'clock,  and  continue  on 
with  only  slight  intermission  until  late  on  Saturday  evening."2 
Even  the  bourgeois  intellect  understands  the  position  of  the 
"underselling"  masters.  "The  unpaid  labour  of  the  men  was 
made  the  source  whereby  the  competition  was  carried  on."3 
And  the  "full-priced"  baker  denounces  his  underselling  com- 
petitors to  the  Commission  of  Inquiry  as  thieves  of  foreign 
labour  and  adulterators.  "They  only  exist  now  by  first  de- 
frauding the  public,  and  next  getting  18  hours  work  out  of 
their  men  for  12  hours'  wages."4 

1 1.  c.   First  Report,  &c,  p.  vi. 

2  1.  c.  p.   Ixxi.  3  George   Read,  The  History  of  Baking,   London,  1848,  p.  16. 

4  Report    (First)    &c.     Evidence  of   the   "full-priced"   bakex   Cheeseman,   p.    ]08. 

The  Working  Day.  277 

The  adulteration  of  bread  and  the  formation  of  a  class  of 
bakers  that  sells  the  bread  below  the  full  price,  date  from  the 
beginning  of  the  18th  century,  from  the  time  when  the 
corporate  character  of  the  trade  was  lost,  and  the  capitalist  in 
the  form  of  the  miller  or  flour-factor,  rises  behind  the  nominal 
master  baker.1  Thus  was  laid  the  foundation  of  capitalistic 
production  in  this  trade,  of  the  unlimited  extension  of  the 
working  day  and  of  night  labour,  although  the  latter  only 
since  1824  gained  a  serious  footing,  even  in  London.2 

After  what  has  just  been  said,  it  will  be  understood  that  the 
Report  of  the  Commission  classes  journeymen  bakers  among 
the  short-lived  labourers,  who,  having  by  good  luck  escaped  the 
normal  decimation  of  the  children  of  the  working-class,  rarely 
reach  the  age  of  42.  Nevertheless,  the  baking  trade  is  always 
overwhelmed  with  applicants.  The  sources  of  the  supply  of 
these  labour-powers  to  London  are  Scotland,  the  western  agri- 
cultural districts  of  England,  and  Germany. 

In  the  years  1858-60,  the  journeymen  bakers  in  Ireland 
organized  at  their  own  expense  great  meetings  to  agitate 
against  night  and  Sunday  work.  The  public — e.g.,  at  the 
Dublin  meeting  in  May,  1860 — took  their  part  with  Irish 
warmth.  As  a  result  of  this  movement,  ^ay  labor  alone  was 
successfully  established  in  Wexford,  Kilkenny,  Clonmel,  Water- 
ford,  &c.  "In  Limerick,  where  the  grievances  of  the  journey- 
men are  demonstrated  to  be  excessive,  the  movement  has  been 
defeated  by  the  opposition  of  the  master  bakers,  the  miller 
bakers  being  the  greatest  opponents.  The  example  of  Limerick 
led  to  a  retrogression  in  Ennis  and  Tipperary.  In  Cork,  where 
the  strongest  possible  demonstration  of  feeling  took  place,  the 
masters,  by  exercising  their  power  of  turning  the  men  out  of 
employment,  have  defeated  the  movement.  In  Dublin,  the 
master  bakers  have  offered  the  most  determined  opposition  to 

1  George  Read,  1.  c.  At  the  end  of  the  17th  and  the  beginning  of  the  18th  cen- 
turies the  factors  (agents)  that  crowded  into  every  possible  trade  were  still  de- 
nounced as  "public  nuisances."  Thus  the  Grand  Jury  at  the  quarter  session  of  the 
Justices  of  the  Peace  for  the  County  of  Somerset,  addressed  a  presentment  to  the 
Lower  House  which,  among  other  things,  states,  "that  these  factors  of  Blackwell  Hall 
are  a  Public  Nuisance  and  Prejudice  to  the  Clothing  Trade,  and  ought  to  be  put 
•down  as  a  Nuisance."     The  case  of  our  English  Wool,  &c,  London,  1685,  p.  6,  7. 

2  First  Report,  &c. 

278  Capitalist  Production. 

the  movement,  and  by  discountenancing  as  much  as  possible 
the  journeymen  promoting  it,  have  succeeded  in  leading  the 
men  into  acquiescence  in  Sunday  work  and  night  work,  con- 
trary to  the  convictions  of  the  men."1 

The  Committee  of  the  English  Government,  which  Govern- 
ment, in  Ireland,  is  armed  to  the  teeth,  and  generally  knows 
how  to  show  it,  remonstrates  in  mild,  though  funereal,  tones 
with  the  implacable  master  bakers  of  Dublin,  Limerick,  Cork, 
&c. :  "The  Committee  believe  that  the  hours  of  labour  are 
limited  by  natural  laws,  which  cannot  be  violated  with  im- 
punity. That  for  master  bakers  to  induce  their  workmen,  by 
the  fear  of  losing  employment,  to  violate  their  religious  con- 
victions and  their  better  feelings,  to  disobey  the  laws  of  the 
land,  and  to  disregard  public  opinion  (this  all  refers  to  Sunday 
labour),  is  calculated  to  provoke  ill-feeling  between  workmen 
and  masters,  .  .  .  and  affords  an  example  dangerous  to  religion, 
morality,  and  social  order.  .  .  .  The  Committee  believe  that 
any  constant  work  beyond  12  hours  a-day  encroaches  on  the 
domestic  and  private  life  of  the  working  man,  and  so  leads  to 
disastrous  moral  results,  interfering  with  each  man's  home,  and 
the  discharge  of  his  family  duties  as  a  son,  a  brother,  a  hus- 
band, a  father.  That  work  beyond  12  hours  has  a  tendency  to 
undermine  the  health  of  the  working  man,  and  so  leads  to 
premature  old  age  and  death,  to  the  great  injury  of  families  of 
working  men,  thus  deprived  of  the  care  and  support  of  the 
head  of  the  family  when  most  required."2 

So  far,  we  have  dealt  with  Ireland.  On  the  other  side  of 
the  channel,  in  Scotland,  the  agricultural  labourer,  the  plough- 
man, protests  against  his  13-14  hours'  work  in  the  most  in- 
clement climate,  with  4  hours'  additional  work  on  Sunday  (in 
this  land  of  Sabbatarians!),3  whilst,  at  the  same  time,  three 
railway  men  are  standing  before  a  London  coroner's  jury — a 
guard,  an  engine-driver,  a  signalman.  A  tremendous  railway 
accident  has  hurried  hundreds  of  passengers  into  another 
world.     The  negligence  of  the  employes  is  the  cause  of  the 

1  Report   of   Committee   on    the    Baking  Trade   in    Ireland   for   1861. 
»  1.  c. 

8  Public  meeting  of  agricultural    labourers  at  Lasswade,    near   Edinburgh,  January 
6th,    1866.     (See    "Workman's    Advocate,"    January    13th,    1866.)     The    formation 

The  Working  Day.  279 

misfortune.  They  declare  with  one  voice  before  the  jury  that 
ten  or  twelve  years  before,  their  labour  only  lasted  eight  hours 
a-day.  During  the  last  five  or  six  years  it  had  been  screwed 
up  to  14,  18,  and  20  hours,  and  under  a  specially  severe  pres- 
sure of  holiday-makers,  at  times  of  excursion  trains,  it  often 
lasted  for  40  or  50  hours  without  a  break.  They  were  ordinary 
men,  not  Cyclops.  At  a  certain  point  their  labour-power 
failed.  Torpor  seized  them.  Their  brain  ceased  to  think,  their 
eyes  to  see.  The  thoroughly  "respectable"  British  jurymen 
answered  by  a  verdict  that  sent  them  to  the  next  assizes  on  a 
charge  of  manslaughter,  and,  in  a  gentle  "rider"  to  their  ver- 
dict, expressed  the  pious  hope  that  the  capitalistic  magnates  of 
the  railways  would,  in  future,  be  more  extravagant  in  the 
purchase  of  a  sufficient  quantity  of  labour-power,  and  more 
"abstemious,"  more  "self-denying,"  more  "thrifty,"  in  the 
draining  of  paid  labour-power.1 

From  the  motley  crowd  of  labourers  of  all  callings,  ages, 

since  the  close  of  1865  of  a  Trades'  Union  among  the  agricultural  labourers  at  first 
in  Scotland  is  a  historic  event.  In  one  of  the  most  oppressed  agricultural  districts 
of  England,  Buckinghamshire,  the  labourers,  in  March,  1867,  made  a  great  strike  for 
the  raising  of  their  weekly  wage  from  9-10  shillings  to  12  shillings.  (It  will  be  seen 
from  the  preceding  passage  that  the  movement  of  the  English  agricultural  proletariat, 
entirely  crushed  since  the  suppression  of  its  violent  manifestations  after  1830,  and 
especially  since  the  introduction  of  the  new  Poor  Laws,  begins  again  in  the  sixties, 
until  it  becomes  finally  epoch-making  in  1872.  I  return  to  this  in  the  2nd  volume, 
as  well  as  to  the  blue  books  that  have  appeared  since  1867  on  the  position  of  the  Eng- 
lish land  labourers.     Addendum  to  the  3rd  ed.) 

1  "Reynolds'  Newspaper,"  January,  1866. — Every  week  this  same  paper  has, 
under  the  sensational  headings,  "Fearful  and  fatal  accidents,"  "Appalling  tragedies," 
&c,  a  whole  list  of  fresh  railway  catastrophes.  On  these  an  employe  on  the  North 
Staffordshire  line  comments:  "Everyone  knows  the  consequences  that  may  occur  if 
the  driver  and  fireman  of  a  locomotive  engine  are  not  continually  on  the  look-out. 
How  can  that  be  expected  from  a  man  who  has  been  at  such  work  for  29  or  30 
hours,  exposed  to  the  weather,  and  without  rest.  The  following  is  an  example  which 
5s  of  very  frequent  occurrence: — One  fireman  commenced  work  on  the  Monday  morn- 
ing at  a  very  early  hour.  When  he  had  finished  what  is  called  a  day's  work,  he  had 
been  on  duty  14  hours  50  minutes.  Before  he  had  time  to  get  his  tea,  he  was 
again  called  on  for  duty.  .  .  .  The  next  time  he  finished  he  had  been  on  duty  14 
hours  25  minutes,  making  a  total  of  29  hours  15  minutes  without  intermission. 
The  rest  of  the  week's  work  was  made  up  as  follows: — Wednesday,  15  hours;  Thurs- 
day, 15  hours  35  minutes;  Friday,  14^2  hours;  Saturday,  14  hours  10  minutes,  making 
a  total  for  the  week  of  88  hours  40  minutes.  Now,  sir,  fancy  his  astonishment  on 
being  paid  6%  days  for  the  whole.  Thinking  it  was  a  mistake,  he  applied  to  the  time- 
keeper, .  .  .  and  inquired  what  they  considered  a  day's  work,  and  was  told  13 
hours  for  a  good  man  (i.e.,  78  hours.  .  .  .  He  then  asked  for  what  he  had  made 
over  and  above  the  78  hours  per  week,  but  was  refused.  However,  he  was  at  last 
told  they  would  give  him  another  quarter,  i.e.,  lOd."     1.  c,  4th  February,  1866. 

280  Capitalist  Production. 

sexes,  that  press  on  us  more  busily  than  the  souls  of  the  slain 
on  Ulysses,  on  whom — without  referring  to  the  blue  books 
under  their  arms — we  see  at  a  glance  the  mark  of  over-work, 
let  us  take  two  more  figures  whose  striking  contrast  proves 
that  before  capital  all  men  are  alike — a  milliner  and  a  black- 

In  the  last  week  of  June^  1863,  all  the  London  daily  papers 
published  a  paragraph  with  the  "sensational"  heading  "Death 
from  simple  over-work."  It  dealt  with  the  death  of  the 
milliner,  Mary  Anne  Walkley,  20  years  of  age,  employed  in  a 
highly-respectable  dressmaking  establishment,  exploited  by  a 
lady  with  the  pleasant  name  of  Elise.  The  old,  often-told 
story,1  was  once  more  recounted.  This  girl  worked,  on  an 
average,  16^  hours,  during  the  season  often  30  hours,  without  a 
break,  whilst  her  failing  labour-powerwas  revived  by  occasional 
supplies  of  sherry,  port,  or  coffee.  It  was  just  now  the  height 
of  the  season.  It  was  necessary  to  conjure  up  in  the  twinkling 
of  an  eye  the  gorgeous  dresses  for  the  noble  ladies  bidden  to 
the  ball  in  honour  of  the  newly-imported  Princess  of  Wales. 
Mary  Anne  Walkley  had  worked  without  intermission  for  26|- 
hours,  with  60  other  girls,  30  in  one  room,  that  only  afforded  -^ 
of  the  cubic  feet  of  air  required  for  them.  At  night,  they  slept 
in  pairs  in  one  of  the  stifling  holes  into  which  the  bedroom  was 
divided  by  partitions  of  board.2     And  this  was  one  of  the  best 

*Cf.    F.  Engels.    1.  c,  pp.  253,  154. 

8  Dr.  Letheby,  Consulting  Physician  of  the  Board  of  Health,  declared:  "The  mini- 
mum of  air  for  each  adult  ought  to  be  in  a  sleeping  room  300,  and  in  a  dwelling 
room  500  cubic  feet."  Dr.  Richardson,  Senior  Physician  to  one  of  the  London 
Hospitals:  "Wit"  needlewomen  of  all  kinds,  including  milliners,  dressmakers,  and 
ordinary  sempstresses,  there  are  three  miseries — over-work,  deficient  air,  and  either 
deficient  food  or  deficient  digestion.  .  .  .  Needlework,  in  the  main,  ...  is 
infinitely  better  adapted  to  women  than  to  men.  But  the  mischiefs  of  the  trade, 
in  the  metropolis  especially,  are  that  it  is  monopolised  by  some  twenty-six  capitalists, 
who,  under  the  advantages  that  spring  from  capital,  can  bring  in  capital  to  force 
economy  out  of  labour.  This  power  tells  throughout  the  whole  class.  If  a  dress- 
maker can  get  a  little  circle  of  customers,  such  is  the  competition  that,  in  her 
home,  she  must  work  to  the  death  to  hold  together,  and  this  same  over-work  she 
must  of  necessity  inflict  on  any  who  may  assist  her.  If  she  fail,  or  do  not  try 
independently,  she  must  join  an  establishment,  where  her  labour  is  not  less,  but 
wheve  her  money  is  safe.  Placed  thus,  she  becomes  a  mere  slave,  tossed  about  with 
the  variations  of  society.  Now  at  home,  in  one  room,  starving,  or  near  to  it,  then 
engaged  15,  16,  aye,  even  18  hours  out  of  the  24,  in  an  air  that  is  scarcely  tolerable, 
and  on   food  which,  even   if  it  be  good,  cannot  be  digested  in  the  absence  of  pure 

The  Working  Day.  281 

millinery  establishments  in  London.  Mary  Anne  Walkley  fell 
ill  on  the  Friday,  died  on  Sunday,  without,  to  the  astonish- 
ment of  Madame  Elise,  having  previously  completed  the  work 
in  hand.  The  doctor,  Mr.  Keys,  called  too  late  to  the  death- 
bed, duly  bore  witness  before  the  coroner's  jury  that  "Mary 
Anne  Walkley  had  died  from  long  hours  of  work  in  an  over- 
crowded workroom,  and  a  too  small  and  badly-ventilated  bed- 
room." In  order  to  give  the  doctor  a  lesson  in  good  manners, 
the  coroner's  jury  thereupon  brought  in  a  verdict  that  "the 
deceased  had  died  of  apoplexy,  but  there  was  reason  to  fear 
that  her  death  had  been  accelerated  by  over-work  in  an  over- 
crowded workroom,  &c."  "Our  white  slaves,"  cried  the  "Morn- 
ing Star,"  the  organ  of  the  free-traders,  Cobden  and  Bright, 
"our  white  slaves,  who  are  toiled  into  the  grave,  for  the  most 
part  silently  pine  and  die."1 

"It  is  not  in  dressmakers'  rooms  that  working  to  death  is 
the  order  of  the  day,  but  in  a  thousand  other  places ;  in  every 
place  I  had  almost  said,  where  'a  thriving  business'  has  to  be 
done.  .  .  .  We  will  take  the  blacksmith  as  a  type.  If 
the  poets  were  true,  there  is  no  man  so  hearty,  so  merry,  as 
the  blacksmith;  he  rises  early  and  strikes  his  sparks  before 
the  sun ;  he  eats  and  drinks  and  sleeps  as  no  other  man. 
Working  in  moderation,  he  is,  in  fact,  in  one  of  the  best  of 

air.  On  these  victims,  consumption,  which  is  purely  a  disease  of  bad  air,  feeds." 
Dr.  Richardson:  "Work  and  Overwork,"  in  "Social  Science  Review,"  18th  July, 

1  "Morning  Star,"  23rd  June,  1863. — The  "Times"  made  use  of  the  circumstance 
to  defend  the  American  slave  owners  against  Bright,  &c.  "Very  many  of  us  think," 
says  a  leader  of  July  2nd,  1868,  "that,  while  we  work  our  own  young  women  to 
death,  using  the  scourge  of  starvation,  instead  of  the  crack  of  the  whip,  as  the 
instrument  of  compulsion,  we  have  scarcely  a  right  to  hound  on  fire  and  slaughter 
against  families  who  were  born  slave  owners,  and  who,  at  least,  feed  their  slaves 
well,  and  work  them  lightly."  In  the  same  manner,  the  "Standard,"  a  Tory  organ, 
fell  foul  of  the  Rev.  Newman  Hall:  "He  excommunicated  the  slave  owners,  but 
prays  with  the  fine  folk  who,  without  remorse,  make  the  omnibus  drivers  and  con- 
ductors of  London,  &o,  work  16  hours  a-day  for  the  wages  of  a  dog."  Finally, 
spake  the  oracle,  Thomas  Carlyle,  of  whom  I  wrote,  in  1850,  "Zum  Teufel  ist  der 
Genius,  der  Kultus  ist  geblieben."  In  a  short  parable,  he  reduces  the  one  great 
event  of  contemporary  history,  the  American  civil  war,  to  this  level,  that  the  Peter 
of  the  North  wants  to  break  the  head  of  the  Paul  of  the  South  with  all  his  might, 
because  the  Peter  of  the  North  hires  his  labour  by  the  day,  and  the  Paul  of  the 
South  hires  his  by  the  life.  ("Macmillan's  Magazine."  Ilias  Americana  in  nuce. 
August,  1863.)  Thus,  the  bubble  of  Tory  sympathy  for  the  urban  workers — by  0.4 
means  for  the  rural — has  burst  at  last.     The  sum  of  all  is — slavery! 

282  Capitalist  Production. 

human  positions,  physically  speaking.  But  we  follow  him  into 
the  city  or  town,  and  we  see  the  stress  of  work  on  that  strong 
man,  and  what  then  is  his  position  in  the  death-rate  of  his 
country.  In  Marylebone,  blacksmiths  die  at  the  rate  of  31  per 
thousand  per  annum,  or  11  above  the  mean  of  the  male  adults 
of  the  country  in  its  entirety.  The  occupation,  instinctive 
almost  as  a  portion  of  human  art,  unobjectionable  as  a  branch 
of  human  industry,  is  made  by  mere  excess  of  work,  the  de- 
stroyer of  the  man.  He  can  strike  so  many  blows  per  day, 
walk  so  many  steps,  breathe  so  many  breaths,  produce  so  much 
work,  and  live  an  average,  say  of  fifty  years ;  he  is  made  to 
strike  so  many  more  blows,  to  walk  so  many  more  steps,  to 
breathe  so  many  more  breaths  per  day,  and  to  increase  alto- 
gether a  fourth  of  his  life.  He  meets  the  effort ;  the  result  is, 
that  producing  for  a  limited  time  a  fourth  more  work,  he  dies 
at  37  for  50."1 


Constant  capital,  the  means  of  production,  considered  from 
the  standpoint  of  the  creation  of  surplus-value,  only  exist  to 
absorb  labour,  and  with  every  drop  of  labour  a  proportional 
quantity  of  surplus-labour.  While  they  fail  to  do  this,  their 
mere  existence  causes  a  relative  loss  to  the  capitalist,  for  they 
represent  during  the  time  they  lie  fallow,  a  useless  advance  of 
capital.  And  this  loss  becomes  positive  and  absolute  as  soon 
as  the  intermission  of  their  employment  necessitates  additional 
outlay  at  the  recommencement  of  work.  The  prolongation  of 
the  working  day  beyond  the  limits  of  the  natural  day,  into 
the  night,  only  acts  as  a  palliative.  It  quenches  only  in  a  slight 
degree  the  vampire  thirst  for  the  living  blood  of  labour.  To 
appropriate  labour  during  all  the  21  hours  of  the  day  is,  there- 
fore, the  inherent  tendency  of  capitalist  production.  But  as  it 
is  physically  impossible  to  exploit  the  same  individual  labour- 
power  constantly  during  the  night  as  well  as  the  day,  to  over- 
come this  physical  hindrance,  an  alternation  becomes  necessary 
between  the  workpeople  whose  powers  are  exhausted  by  day, 

1  Dr.   Richardson,   1.  c. 

The  Working  Day.  283 

and  those  who  are  used  up  by  night.  This  alternation  may  be 
effected  in  various  ways ;  e.g.,  it  may  be  so  arranged  that  part 
of  the  workers  are  one  week  employed  on  day  work,  the  next 
week  on  night  work.  It  is  well-known  that  this  relay  system, 
this  alternation  of  two  sets  of  workers,  held  full  sway  in  the 
full-blooded  youth-time  of  the  English  cotton  manufacture,  and 
that  at  the  present  time  it  still  flourishes,  among  others,  in  the 
cotton  spinning  of  the  Moscow  district.  This  2-i  hours'  process 
of  production  exists  to-day  as  a  system  in  many  of  the  branches 
of  industry  of  Great  Britain  that  are  still  "free,"  in  the 
blast-furnaces,  forges,  plate-rolling  mills,  and  other  metal- 
lurgical establishments  in  England,  Wales,  and  Scotland.  The 
working  time  here  includes,  besides  the  24  hours  of  the  6 
working  days,  a  great  part  also  of  the  24  hours  of  Sunday. 
The  workers  consist  of  men  and  women,  adults  and  children 
of  both  sexes.  The  ages  of  the  children  and  young  persons  rim 
through  all  intermediate  grades,  from  8  (in  some  cases  from  6) 
to  18.1 

In  some  branches  of  industry,  the  girls  and  women  work 
through  the  night  together  with  the  males.2 

Placing  on  one  side  the  generally  injurious  influence  of 
night-labour,3  the  duration  of  the  process  of  production,  un- 

1  Children's   Employment  Commissio  ..     Third  Report.     Lond  .:,  1864,  y.  iv.,  v.,  vi. 

8  "Both  in  Staffordshire  and  in  3outh  Wale  -ouiij  girb  an '  women  are  employed 
on  the  pit  banks  and  on  the  coke  heaps,  not  only  y  day  but  also  by  night.  This 
practice  has  been  often  noticed  in  Reports  presente  o  Parliament,  as  being  attended 
with  great  and  notorious  evils.  These  females  er  loyed  with  the  men,  hardly  dis- 
tinguished from  them  in  their  dress,  and  b  grimed  with  dirt  and  smoke,  arc  exposed 
to  the  deterioration  of  character,  arising  from  the  loss  of  ^elf-respect,  which  can 
hardly  fail  to  follow  from  their  unfeminine  occupation."  (1.  c.  194.,  p.  xxvi.  Cf. 
Fourth    Report    (1865),   61,   p.   xiii.)      It   is   the   same  in   glass-works. 

lA  steel  manufacturer  wlio  employs  children  in  night  labour  remarked:  "It 
seems  but  natural  that  boys  who  work  r.t  night  cann  t  leep  and  get  proper  rest  by 
day,  but  will  be  running  about."  (1.  c.  Fourth  Report,  63,  p.  xiii.)  On  the  im- 
portance of  sunlight  f  r  the  maintenance  and  growth  of  t'  :  body,  a  physician1 
writes:  "Light  also  acts  up  t  thi  tissues  of  the  body  directly  in  hardening  them 
and  supporting  their  elasticity.  The  muscles  of  animals,  when  they  are  deprived 
of  a  proper  amount  of  light,  become  soft  and  inelastic,  the  nervous  power  loses  its 
tone  from  defective  stimulation,  and  the  elaboration  of  all  growth  seems  to  bo 
perverted.  ...  In  the  case  of  children,  constant  access  to  plenty  of  light  during 
the  day,  and  to  the  direct  rays  of  the  sun  for  a  part  of  it,  is  most  essential  to 
health.  Light  assists  in  the  elaboration  of  good  plastic  blood,  and  hardens  the 
fibre  after  it  has  been  laid  down.  It  also  act;  as  a  stimulus  upon  the  organs  of 
sight,  and  by  this  means  brings  about  more  activity  in  the  various  cerebral  func- 
tions."    Dr.  W.   Strange,  Senior  Physician  of  the  Worcester  General  Hospital,  fronr 

284  Capitalist  Production. 

broken  during  the  24  hours,  offers  very  welcome  opportunities 
of  exceeding  the  limits  of  the  normal  working  day,  e.g.,  in  the 
branches  of  industry  already  mentioned,  which  are  of  an 
exceedingly  fatiguing  nature ;  the  official  working  day  mean? 
for  each  worker  usually  12  hours  by  night  or  day.  But  the 
over-work  beyond  this  amount  is  in  many  cases,  to  use  the 
words  of  the  English  official  report,  "truly  fearful."1 

"It  is  impossible,"  the  report  continues,  "for  any  mind  to 
realise  the  amount  of  work  described  in  the  following  passages 
as  being  performed  by  boys  of  from  9  to  12  years  of  age  .... 
without  coming  irresistibly  to  the  conclusion  that  such  abuses 
of  the  power  of  parents  and  of  employers  can  no  longer  be 
allowed  to  exist."2 

"The  practice  of  boys  working  at  all  by  day  and  night 
turns  either  in  the  usual  course  of  things,  or  at  pressing  times, 
seems  inevitably  to  open  the  door  to  their  not  unfrequently 
working  unduly  long  hours.  These  hours  are,  indeed,  in  some 
cases,  not  only  cruelly  but  even  incredibly  long  for  children 
Amongst  a  number  of  boys  it  will,  of  course,  not  unfrequently 
happen  that  one  or  more  are  from  some  cause  absent.  When 
this  happens,  their  place  is  made  up  by  one  or  more  boys, 
who  work  in  the  other  turn.  That  this  is  a  well  understood 
system  is  plain  .  .  .  from  the  answer  of  the  manager  of 
some  large  rolling-mills,  who,  when  I  asked  him  how  the 
place  of  the  boys  absent  from  their  turn  was  mado  up,  'I 
daresay,  sir,  you  know  that  as  well  as  I  do,'  and  admitted,  the 

"At  a  rolling-mill  where  the  proper  hours  were  from  6  a.m. 
to  5|  p.m.,  a  boy  worked  pbout  four  nights  every  week  till 
8^  p.m.  at  least  .  .  .  and  this  for  six  months.  Another,  at  9 
years  old,  sometimes  made  three  12-hour  shifts  running,  and, 

whose  work  on  "Health"  (1864)  this  passage  is  taken,  writes  in  a  letter  to  Mr. 
White,  one  of  the  commissioners:  "I  have  had  opportunities  formerly,  when  in 
Lancashire,  of  observing  the  effects  of  night-work  upon  children,  and  I  have  no 
hesitation  in  saying,  contrary  to  what  some  employers  were  fond  of  asserting,  those 
children  who  were  subjected  to  it  soon  suffered  in  their  health."  (1.  c.  284,  p.  55.) 
That  such  a  question  should  furnish  the  material  of  serious  controversy,  shows 
plainly  how  capitalist  production  acts  on  the  brain-functions  of  capitalists  and  their 

M.    c.    57,    p.    xii.  2L    c.     Fourth    Report    (1865),    58,    p.    xii.  » I.   G 

The  Working  Day.  285 

when  10,  has  made  two  days  and  two  nights  running."  A 
third,  "now  10  .  .  .  worked  from  6  a.m.  till  12  p.m.  three 
nights,  and  till  9  p.m.  the  other  nights."  "Another,  now  13, 
.  .  .  worked  from  6  p.m.  till  12  noon  next  day,  for  a  week 
together,  and  sometimes  for  three  shifts  together,  e.g.,  from 
Monday  morning  till  Tuesday  night."  "Another,  now  12,  has 
worked  in  an  iron  foundry  at  Stavely  from  6  a.m.  till  12  p.m. 
for  a  fortnight  on  end ;  could  not  do  it  any  more."  "George 
Allinsworth,  age  9,  came  here  as  cellar-boy  last  Friday ;  next 
morning  we  had  to  begin  at  3,  so  I  stopped  here  all  night. 
Live  five  miles  off.  Slept  on  the  floor  of  the  furnace,  over 
head,  with  an  apron  under  me,  and  a  bit  of  a  jacket  over  me. 
The  two  other  days  I  have  been  here  at  6  a.m.  Aye !  it  is  hot 
in  here.  Before  I  came  here  I  was  nearly  a  year  at  the  same 
work  at  some  works  in  the  country.  Began  there,  too,  at  3  on 
Saturday  morning — always  did,  but  was  very  gain  [near] 
home,  and  could  sleep  at  home.  Other  days  I  began  at  6  in  the 
morning,  and  gi'en  over  at  6  or  7  in  the  evening,"  &C.1 

1 1.  c,  p.  xiii.  The  degree  of  culture  of  these  "labour-powers"  must  naturally  be 
such  as  appears  in  the  following  dialogues  with  one  of  the  commissioners:  Jere- 
miah Haynes,  age  12 — "Four  times  four  is  8;   4  fours  are   16.     A  king  is  him  that 

s  all  m  ney  and       Id.     We  have  a  King   (told  it  is  a  Queen),   they  call   her 

tL .  Princess  Alexandria.  Told  that  she  married  the  Queen's  son.  The  Queen's 
son  the  "  incess  Alexandria.  A  Princess  is  a  man."  William  Turner,  age  12 — 
"Don't  live  in  England.  Think  it  is  a  country,  but  didn't  know  before."  John 
Morris,  ag-  14 — "Have  heard  say  that  God  made  the  world,  and  that  all  the  people 
was  drownde '  but  one;  heard  say  that  one  was  a  little  bird."  William  Smith,  age 
15 — *"God  1  .de  man,  man  made  woman."  Edward  Taylor,  age  15 — "Do  not  know 
of  London."  Henry  Matthewman,  age  17 — "Had  been  to  chapel,  but  missed  a  good 
many  times  lately.  One  name  that  they  preached  about  was  Jesus  Christ,  but  I 
cannot  say  any  ^'  •,  and  I  cannot  tell  anything  about  him.  He  was  not  killed, 
but  died  like  other  people.  He  was  not  the  same  as  other  people  in  some  ways, 
because  he  was  religious  in  some  ways,  and  others  isn't."  (1.  c.  p.  xv.)  "The 
devil  is  a  good  person.  I  don't  know  where  he  lives."  "Christ  was  a  wicked 
man."  "This  girl  spelt  God  as  dog,  and  did  not  know  the  name  of  the  queen." 
('"Ch.  Employment  Comm.  V.  Report,  1866,"  p.  55,  n.  278.)  The  same  system 
obtains  in  the  glass  and  paper  works  as  in  the  metallurgical,  already  cited.  In  the 
paper  factories,  where  the  paper  is  made  by  machinery,  night-work  is  the  rule  for 
all  processes,  except  rag-sorting.  In  some  cases  night-work,  by  relays,  is  carried 
on  incessantly  through  the  whole  week,  usually  from  Sunday  night  until  midnight 
of  the  following  Saturday.  Those  who  are  on  day-work  work  5  days  of  12,  and  1 
day  of  18  hours;  those  on  night-work  5  nights  of  12,  and  1  of  6  hours  in  each 
week.  In  other  cases  each  set  works  24  hours  consecutively  on  alternate  days,  one 
set  working  6  hours  on  Monday,  and  18  on  Saturday  to  make  up  the  24  hours.  In 
other  cases  an  intermediate  system  prevails,  by  which  all  employed  on  the  paper- 
making  machinery  work  15  or  16  hours  every  day  in  the  week.  This  system,  says 
Commissioner  Lord,  "seems  to  combine  all  the  evils  of  both  the  12  hours'  and  the  24 

286  Capitalist  Production. 

Let  us  now  hear  now  capital  itself  regards  this  24  hours' 
system.  The  extreme  forms  of  the  system,  its  abuse  in  the 
"cruel  and  incredible"  extension  of  the  working  day  are  natur- 
ally passed  over  in  silence.  Capital  only  speaks  of  the  system 
in  its  "normal"  form. 

Messrs.  JSTaylor  &  Vickers,  steel  manufacturers,  who  employ 
between  600  and  700  persons,  among  whom  only  10  per  cent, 
are  under  18,  and  of  those,  only  20  boys  under  18  work  in 
night  sets  thus  express  themselves:  "The  boys  do  not  suffer 
from  the  heat.  The  temperature  is  probably  from  86°  to  90°. 
At  the  forges  and  in  the  rolling-mills  the  hands 
work  night  and  day,  in  relays,  but  all  the  other  parts  of  the 
work  are  day  work,  i.e.,  from  6  a.m.  to  6  p.m.  In  the  forge 
the  hours  are  from  12  to  12.  Some  of  the  hands  always  work 
in  the  night,  without  any  alternation  of  day  and  night  work. 

We  do  not  find  any  difference  in  the  health  of  those 

who  work  regularly  by  night  and  those  who  work  by  day,  and 
probably  people  can  sleep  better  if  they  have  the  same  period 

of  rest  than  if  it  is  changed About  20  of  the  boys 

under  the  age  of  18  work  in  the  night  sets We 

could  not  well  do  without  lads  under  18  working  by  night. 
The  objection  would  be  in  the  increase  in  the  cost  of  produc- 
tion  Skilled  hands  and  the  heads  in  every  department 

are  difficult  to  get,  but  of  the  lads  we  could  get  any  number. 

But  from  the  small  proportion  of  boys  that  we  employ 

the  subject  (i.e.,  of  restrictions  on  night  work)  is  of  little  im- 
portance or  interest  to  us."1 

Mr.  J.  Ellis,  one  of  the  firm  of  Messrs.  John  Brown  &  Co., 
steel  and  iron  works,  employing  about  3000  men  and  boys,  part 

hours'  relays."  Children  under  13,  young  persons  under  18,  and  women,  work 
under  this  night  system.  Sometimes  under  the  12  hours'  system  they  are  obliged,  on 
account  of  the  non-appearance  of  those  that  ought  to  relieve  them,  to  work  a  double 
turn  of  24  hours.  The  evidence  proves  that  boys  and  girls  very  often  work  over- 
time, which,  not  unfrequently,  extends  to  24  or  even  36  hours  of  uninterrupted 
toil.  In  the  continuous  and  unvarying  process  of  glazing  are  found  girls  of  12 
who  work  the  whole  month  14  hours  a  day,  "without  any  regular  relief  or  cessation 
beyond  2  or,  at  most,  3  breaks  of  half-an-hour  each  for  meals."  In  some  mills, 
where  regular  night-work  has  been  entirely  given  up,  over-work  goes  on  to  a  terri- 
ble extent,  "and  that  often  in  the  dirtiest,  and  in  the  hottest,  and  in  the  most 
monotonous  of  the  various  processes."  ("Ch.  Employment  Comm.  Report  IV., 
1865,"    p.    xxxviii.   and    xxxix.)  *  Fourth    Report,   &c.,    1865,   79,   p.   xvi. 

The  Working  Day.  2%7 

of  whose  operations,  namely,  iron  and  heavier  steel  work,  goes 
on  night  and  day  by  relays  states  "that  in  the  heavier  steel 
work  one  or  two  boys  are  employed  to  a  score  or  two  men." 
Their  concern  employs  upwards  of  500  boys  under  18  of  whom 
about  ^  or  170  are  under  the  age  of  13.  With  reference  to  the 
proposed  alteration  of  the  law;  Mr.  Ellis  says :  "I  do  not  think 
it  would  be  very  objectionable  to  require  that  no  person  under 
the  age  of  18  should  work  more  than  12  hours  in  the  24.  But 
we  do  not  think  that  any  line  could  be  drawn  over  the  age  of 
12,  at  which  boys  could  be  dispensed  with  for  night  work.  But 
we  would  sooner  be  prevented  from  employing  boys  under  the 
age  of  13,  or  even  so  high  as  14,  at  all,  than  not  be  allowed  to 
employ  boys  that  we  do  have  at  night.  Those  boys  who 
work  in  the  day  sets  must  take  their  turn  in  the  night  sets  also, 
because  the  men  could  not  work  in  the  night  sets  only ;  it 

would  ruin  their  health We  think,  however,  that 

night  work  in  alternate  weeks  is  no  harm.  (Messrs.  Naylor  & 
Vickers,  on  the  other  hand,  in  conformity  with  the  interest  of 
their  business,  considered  that  periodically  changed  night- 
labour  might  possibly  do  more  harm  than  continual  night- 
labour.)     We  find  the  men  who  do  it,  as  well  as  the  others  who 

do  other  work  only  by  day Our  objections  to  not 

allowing  boys  under  18  to  work  at  night,  would  be  on  account 
of  the  increase  of  expense,  but  this  is  the  only  reason.  (What 
cynical  naivete!)  We  think  that  the  increase  would  be  more 
than  the  trade,  with  due  regard  to  its  being  successfully  carried 
out,  could  fairly  bear.  (What  mealy-mouthed  phraseology!) 
Labour  is  scarce  here,  and  might  fall  short  if  there  were  such 
a  regulation."  (i.e.,  Ellis  Brown  &  Co.  might  fall  into  the  fata1 
perplexity  of  being  obliged  to  pay  labour-power  its  full  value.)* 
The  "Cyclops  Steel  and  Iron  Works,"  of  Messrs.  Cammel  & 
Co.,  are  conducted  on  the  same  large  scale  as  those  of  the  above 
mentioned  John  Brown  &  Co.  The  managing  director  had 
handed  in  his  evidence  to  the  Government  Commissioner,  Mr. 
White,  in  writing.  Later  he  found  it  convenient  to  suppress 
the  MS.  when  it  had  been  returned  to  him  for  revision.  Mr, 
White,  however,  has  a  good  memory.     He  remembered  quite 

M.    c.    80,   p.   xvi. 

288  Capitalist  Production. 

clearly  that  for  the  Messrs,  Cyclops  the  forbidding  of  the 
night-labour  of  children  and  young  persons  "would  be  im- 
possible, it  would  be  tantamount  to  stopping  their  works,"  and 
yet  their  business  employs  little  more  than  6%  of  boys  under 
18,  and  less  than  1%  under  13.1 

On  the  same  subject  Mr.  E.  E.  Sanderson,  of  the  firm  of 
Sanderson,  Bros.,  &  Co.,  steel  rolling-mills  and  forges,  Atter- 
cliffe,  says :  "Great  difficulty  would  be  caused  by  preventing 
boys  under  18  from  working  at  night.  The  chief  would  be  the 
increase  of  cost  from  employing  men  instead  of  boys.  I  can- 
not say  what  this  would  be,  but  probably  it  would  not  be 
enough  to  enable  the  manufacturers  to  raise  the  price  of  steel, 
and  consequently  it  would  fall  on  them,  as  of  course  the  men 
(what  queer-headed  folk !)  would  refuse  to  pay  it."  Mr.  San- 
derson does  not  know  how  much  he  pays  the  children,  but 
"perhaps  the  younger  boys  get  from  4s.  to  5s.  a  week.  .  .  . 
The  boys'  work  is  of  a  kind  for  which  the  strength  of  the  boys 
is  generally  ('generally,'  of  course  not  always)  quite  sufficient, 
and  consequently  there  would  be  no  gain  in  the  greater  strength 
of  the  men  to  counterbalance  the  loss,  or  it  would  be  only  in 
the  few  cases  in  which  the  metal  is  heavy.  The  men  would 
not  like  so  well  not  to  have  boys  under  them,  as  men  would  be 
less  obedient.  Besides,  boys  must  begin  young  to  learn  the 
trade.  Leaving  day  work  alone  open  to  boys  would  not  answer 
this  purpose."  And  why  not?  Why  could  not  boys  learn 
their  handicraft  in  the  day-time  ?  Your  reason  ?  "Owing  to 
the  men  working  days  and  nights  in  alternate  weeks,  the  men 
would  be  separated  half  the  time  from  their  boys,  and  would 
lose  half  the  profit  which  they  make  from  them.  The  training 
which  they  give  to  an  apprentice  is  considered  as  part  of  the 
return  for  the  boys'  labour,  and  thus  enables  the  men  to  get  it 
at  a  cheaper  rate.  Each  man  would  want  half  of  this  profit." 
In  other  words,  Messrs.  Sanderson  would  have  to  pay  part  of 
the  wages  of  the  adult  men  out  of  their  own  pockets  instead  of 
by  the  night  work  of  the  boys.  Messrs.  Sanderson's  profit 
would  thus  fall  to  some  extent,  and  this  is  the  good  Sanderson- 

lL   c.    82,   p.   xvii. 

The  Working  Day.  289 

ian  reason  why  boys  cannot  learn  their  handicraft  in  the  day.1 
In  addition  to  this,  it  would  throw  night  labour  on  those  who 
worked  instead  of  the  boys,  which  they  would  not  be  able  to 
stand.  The  difficulties  in  fact  would  be  so  great  that  they 
would  very  likely  lead  to  the  giving  up  of  night  work  al- 
together, and  "as  far  as  the  work  itself  is  concerned,"  says 
E.  F.  Sanderson,  "this  would  suit  as  well,  but — "  But  Messrs. 
Sanderson  have  something  else  to  make  besides  steel.  Steel- 
making  is  simply  a  pretext  for  surplus-value  making.  The 
smelting  furnaces,  rolling-mills,  &c,  the  buildings,  machinery, 
iron,  coal,  &c.  have  something  more  to  do  than  transform  them- 
selves into  steel.  They  are  there  to  absorb  surplus-labour,  and 
naturally  absorb  more  in  2-i  hours  than  in  12.  In  fact  they 
give,  by  grace  of  God  and  law,  the  Sandersons  a  cheque  on  the 
working  time  of  a  certain  number  of  hands  for  all  the  24  hours 
of  the  day,  and  they  lose  their  character  as  capital,  are  there- 
fore a  pure  loss  for  the  Sandersons,  as  soon  as  their  function  of 
absorbing  labour  is  interrupted.  "But  then  there  would  be 
the  loss  from  so  much  expensive  machinery,  lying  idle  half  the 
time,  and  to  get  through  the  amount  of  work  which  we  are  able 
to  do  on  the  present  system,  we  should  have  to  double  our 
premises  and  plant,  which  would  double  the  outlay."  But  why 
should  these  Sandersons  pretend  to  a  privilege  not  enjoyed  by 
the  other  capitalists  who  only  work  during  the  day,  and  whose 
buildings,  machinery,  raw  material,  therefore  lie  "idle"  during 
the  night  ?  E.  E.  Sanderson  answers  in  the  name  of  all  the 
Sandersons :  "It  is  true  that  there  is  this  loss  from  machinery 
lying  idle  in  those  manufactories  in  which  work  only  goes  on 
by  day.  But  the  use  of  furnaces  would  involve  a  further  loss 
in  our  case.  If  they  were  kept  up  there  would  be  a  waste  of 
fuel  (instead  of,  as  now,  a  waste  of  the  living  substance  of  the 
workers),  and  if  they  were  not,  there  would  be  loss  of  time  in 
laying  the  fires  and  getting  the  heat  up  (whilst  the  loss  of 
sleeping  time,  even  to  children  of  8,  is  a  gain  of  working 
time  for  the  Sanderson  tribe),  and  the  furnaces  themselves 

1  In  our  reflecting  and  reasoning  age  a  man  is  not  worth  much  who  cannot  give  a 
good  reason  for  everything,  no  matter  how  bad  or  how  crazy.  Everything  in  the 
world  that  has  been  done  wrong  has  been  done  wrong  for  the  very  best  of  reasons. 
(Hegel,   1.   c,   p.  249.) 


290  Capitalist  Production. 

would  suffer  from  the  changes  of  temperature."  (Whilst  those 
same  furnaces  suffer  nothing  from  the  day  and  night  changes  of 
labour. )  * 


17th  CENTUEY. 

"What  is  a  working  day?  What  is  the  length  of  time 
during  which  capital  may  consume  the  labour-power  whose 
daily  value  it  buys  ?  How  far  may  the  working  day  be  ex- 
tended beyond  the  working  time  necessary  for  the  reproduction 
of  labour-power  itself  ?"  It  xia«  been  seen  that  to  these  ques- 
tions capital  replies :  the  working  day  contains  the  full  24 
hours,  with  the  deduction  of  the  few  hours  of  repose  without 
which    labour-power    absolutely    refuses    its    services    again. 

1 1.  c.  85,  p.  xvii.  To  similar  tender  scruples  of  the  glass  manufacturers  that 
regular  meal  times  for  the  children  are  impossible  because  as  a  consequence  a  cer- 
tain quantity  of  heat,  radiated  by  the  furnaces,  wot  i  be  "a  pure  loss"  or  "wasted," 
Commissioner  White  makes  answer.  His  answer  is  unlil-°  that  o.  Ur  Seni  r,  &c, 
and  their  puny  German  plagiarists  a  la  Roschcr  who  are  touche .  b  tb  "abstinence," 
"self-denial,"  "saving,"  of  the  capitalists  in  the  expenditure  of  their  gold,  and  by 
their  Timur-Tamerlanish  prodigality  of  human  life!  "A  certain  amount  of  heat 
beyond  what  is  usual  at  present  might  also  be  going  to  waste,  if  meal  times  were 
secured  in  these  cases,  but  it  seems  likely  not  equal  in  money-value  to  the  waste 
of  animal  power  now  going  on  in  glass-hou  -s  throughout  the  kingdom  from  growing 
boys  not  having  enough  quiet  time  to  e  t  their  meals  at  ease,  with  a  little  rest 
afterwards  for  digestion."  (1.  c,  p.  xlv.)  And  this  in  the  year  of  progress  1865! 
Without  considering  the  expenditure  of  strength  in  lifting  and  carrying,  such  a 
child,  in  the  sheds  where  bottle  and  flint  glass  are  made,  walks  during  the  perform- 
ance of  his  work  15—20  miles  in  every  6  hours!  And  the  work  often  lasts  14  or  15 
hours!  In  many  of  these  glass  works,  as  in  the  Moscow  spinning  mills,  the  system 
of  6  hours'  relays  is  in  force.  "During  the  working  part  of  the  week  six  hours 
is  the  utmost  unbroken  period  ever  attained  at  any  one  time  for  rest,  and  out  of 
this  has  to  come  the  time  spent  in  coming  and  going  to  and  from  work,  washing, 
dressing,  and  meals,  leaving  a  very  short  period  indeed  for  rest,  and  none  for  fresh 
air  and  play,  unless  at  the  expense  of  the  sleep  necessary  for  young  boys,  especially 
at  such  hot  and  fatiguing  work.  .  .  .  Even  the  short  sleep  is  obviously  liable 
to  be  broken  by  a  boy  having  to  wake  himself  if  it  is  night,  or  by  the  noise,  if 
it  is  day."  Mr.  White  gives  cases  where  a  boy  worked  35  consecutive  hours; 
others  where  boys  of  12  drudged  on  until  2  in  the  morning,  and  then  slept  in  the 
works  till  5  a.m.  (3  hours!)  only  to  resume  their  work.  "The  amount  of  work," 
say  Tremenheere  and  Tufnell,  who  drafted  the  general  report,  "done  by  boys, 
youths,  girls,  and  women,  in  the  course  of  their  daily  or  nightly  spell  of  labour,  is 
certainly  extraordinary."  (1.  c,  xliii.  and  xliv.)  Meanwhile,  late  by  night  per- 
haps, self-denying  Mr.  Glass-Capital,  primed  with  port-wine,  reels  out  of  his  club 
homeward   droning  out   idiotically,   "Britons  never,   never   shall   be   slaves!" 

The  Working  Day.  2gi 

Hence  it  is  self-evident  that  the  labourer  is  nothing  else,  his 
whole  life  through,  than  labour-power,  that  therefore  all  his 
disposable  time  is  by  nature  and  law  labour-time,  to  be  devoted 
to  the  self-expansion  of  capital.  Time  for  education,  for 
intellectual  development,  for  the  fulfilling  of  social  functions 
and  for  social  intercourse,  for  the  free-play  of  his  bodily  and 
mental  activity,  even  the  rest  time  of  Sunday  (and  that  in  a 
country  of  Sabbatarians  I)1 — moonshine!  But  in  its  blind  un- 
restrainable  passion,  its  were-wolf  hunger  for  surplus-labour, 
capital  oversteps  not  only  the  moral,  but  even  the  merely 
physical  maximum  bounds  of  the  working  day.  It  usurps  the 
time  for  growth,  development,  and  healthy  maintenance  of 
the  body.  It  steals  the  time  required  for  the  consumption  of 
fresh  air  and  sunlight.  It  higgles  over  a  meal-time,  incorpor- 
ating it  where  possible  with  the  process  of  production  itself,  so 
that  food  is  given  to  the  labourer  as  to  a  mere  means  of  pro- 
duction, as  coal  is  supplied  to  the  boiler,  grease  and  oil  to  the 
machinery.  It  reduces  the  sound  sleep  needed  for  the  resto- 
ration, reparation,  refreshment  of  the  bodily  powers  to  just  so 
many  hours  of  torpor  as  the  revival  of  an  organism,  absolutely 
exhausted,  renders  essential.  It  is  not  the  normal  maintenance 
of  the  labour-power  which  is  to  determine  the  limits  of  the 
working  day ;  it  is  the  greatest  possible  daily  expenditure  of 
labour-power,  no  matter  how  diseased,  compulsory,  and  painful 
it  may  be,  which  is  to  determine  the  limits  of  the  labourers' 
period  of  repose.  Capital  cares  nothing  for  the  length  of  life 
of  labour-power.  All  that  concerns  it  is  simply  and  solely  the 
maximum  of  labour-power,  that  can  be  rendered  fluent  in  a 

1  In  England  even  now  occasionally  in  rural  districts  a  labourer  is  condemned  to 
imprisonment  for  desecrating  the  Sabbath,  by  working  in  his  front  garden.  The 
same  labourer  is  punished  for  breach  of  contract  if  he  remains  away  from  his 
metal,  paper,  or  glass  works  on  the  Sunday,  even  if  it  be  from  a  religious  whim. 
The  orthodox  Parliament  will  hear  nothing  of  Sabbath-breaking  if  it  occurs  in  thfr 
process  of  expanding  capital.  A  memorial  (August  1863),  in  which  the  London 
day-labourers  in  fish  and  poultry  shops  asked  for  the  abolition  of  Sunday  labour, 
states  that  their  work  lasts  for  the  first  6  days  of  the  week  on  an  average  15  hours 
a-day,  and  on  Sunday  8—10  hours.  From  this  same  memorial  we  learn  also  that 
the  delicate  gourmands  among  the  aristocratic  hypocrites  of  Exeter  Hall,  especially 
encourage  this  "Sunday  labour."  These  "holy  ones,"  so  zealous  in  cute  curanda, 
show  their  Christianity  by  the  humility  with  which  they  bear  the  over-work,  the 
privations,  and  the  hunger  of  others.  Obsequium  ventris  istis  {the  labourers)  per* 
mciosius  est. 

292  Capitalist  Production. 

working  day.  It  attains  this  end  by  shortening  the  extent  of 
the  labourer's  life,  as  a  greedy  farmer  snatches  increased  pro- 
duce from  the  soil  by  robbing  it  of  its  fertility. 

The  capitalistic  mode  of  production  (essentially  the  produc- 
tion of  surplus  value,  the  absorption  of  surplus-labour),  pro- 
duces thus,,  with  the  extension  of  the  working  day,  not  only 
the  deterioration  of  human  labour-power  by  robbing  it  of  its 
normal,  moral  and  physical,  conditions  of  development  and 
function.  It  produces  also  the  premature  exhaustion  and 
death  of  this  labour-power  itself.1  It  extends  the  labourer's 
time  of  production  during  a  given  period  by  shortening  his 
actual  life-time. 

But  the  value  of  the  labour-power  includes  the  value  of  the 
commodities  necessary  for  the  reproduction  of  the  worker,  or 
for  the  keeping  up  of  the  working  class.  If  then  the  unnatural 
extension  of  the  working  day,  that  capital  necessarily  strives 
after  in  its  unmeasured  passion  for  self-expansion,  shortens 
the  length  of  life  of  the  individual  labourer,  and  therefor  the 
duration  of  his  labour-power,  the  forces  used  up  have  to  be  re- 
placed at  a  more  rapid  rat©  and  the  sum  of  the  expenses  for 
the  reproduction  of  labour-power  will  be  greater:  just  as  in  a 
machine  the  part  r£  its  value  to  be  reproduced  every  day  is 
greater  the  more  rapidly  the  machine  is  worn  out.  It  would 
seem  therefore  that  the  interest  of  capital  itself  points  in  the 
direction  of  a  normal  working  day. 

The  slave-owner  buys  his  labourer  as  he  buys  his  horse.  If 
he  loses  his  slave,  he  loses  capital  that  can  only  be  restored 
by  new  outlay  in  the  slave-mart.  But  "the  rice-grounds  of 
Georgia,  or  the  swamps  of  the  Mississippi  may  be  fatally  in- 
jurious to  the  human  constitution ;  but  the  waste  of  human 
life  which  the  cultivation  of  these  districts  necessitates,  is  not 
so  great  that  it  cannot  be  repaired  from  the  teeming  preserves 
of  Virginia  and  Kentucky.  Considerations  of  economy,  more- 
over, which,  under  a  natural  system,  afford  some  security  for 
humane  treatment  by  identifying  the  master's  interest  with 

1"We  have  given  in  our  previous  reports  the  statements  of  several  experienced 
manufacturers  to  the  effect  that  over-hours.  .  .  .  certainly  tend  prematurely  to 
exhaust    the   working   power   of   the    men."     (1.   c.    64,   p.   xiii.) 

The  Working  Day.  293 

the  slave's  preservation,  when  once  trading  in  slaves  is  prac- 
tised, become  reasons  for  racking  to  the  uttermost  the  toil  of 
the  slave ;  for,  "when  his  place  can  at  once  be  supplied  from  for- 
eign preserves,  the  duration  of  his  life  becomes  a  matter  of  less 
moment  than  its  productiveness  while  it  lasts.  It  is  accord- 
ingly a  maxim  of  slave  management,  in  slave-importing  coun- 
tries, that  the  most  effective  economy  is  that  which  takes  out 
of  the  human  chattel  in  the  shortest  space  ?  time  the  utmost 
amount  of  exertion  it  is  capable  01  x>  tting  forth.  It  is  in 
tropical  culture,  where  annual  profits  often  equal  the  whole 
capital  of  plantations,  that  negro  life  is  most  recklessly  sac- 
rificed. It  is  the  agriculture  of  the  West  Indies,  which  has 
been  for  centuries  prolific  of  fabulous  wealth,  that  has  engulfed 
millions  of  the  African  race.  It  is  in  Cuba,  at  this  day,  whose 
revenues  are  reckoned  by  millions,  and  whose  planters  are 
princes,  that  we  see  in  the  servile  class2  the  coarsest  fare,  the 
most  exhausting  and  unremitting  toil,  and  even  the  absolute 
destruction  of  a  portion  of  its  numbers  every  year."1 

Mutato  nomine  de  te  fabula  narratur.  For  slave-trade 
read  labour-market  for  Kentucky  inu  Virginia  Ireland  and 
the  agricultu:  1  districts  of  Englpnd,  Scotland,  and  Wales, 
for  i.fric  ,  Germany.  We  heard  how  over-wor  mmned  the 
ranks  of  the  baker ,  in  London.  Nevertheless  di°  London 
labour-market  is  always  over-stocked  with  German  and  other 
candidates  for  death  in  the  bakeries.  Pottery,  as  we  saw,  is 
on j  of  the  shortest-lived  industries.  Is  there  any  want  here- 
foro  of  potters  ?  Josiah  Wedgwood,  the  inventor  of  modern 
pottery,  himself  originally  a  common  workman,  said  in  1785 
before  the  House  of  Commons  that  the  whole  trade  employed 
from  15,000  to  20,000  people.2  In  the  year  1861  the  popula- 
tion alone  of  the  town  centres  of  this  industry  in  Great  Britain 
numbered  101,302.     "The  cotton  trade  has  existed  for  ninety 

years It  has  existed  for  three  generations  of  the  English 

race,  and  I  believe  I  may  safely  say  that  during  that  period  it 
has  destroyed  nine  generations  of  factory  operatives."3 

1  Cairnes,    "The   Slave   Power,"   p.    110,   111. 

2  John    Ward:     "History    of    the    Borough    of    Stoke-upon-Trent,"    London,    1843, 
p.   42. 

*  Ferrand's   Speech  in   the  House  of   Commons,   27th   April,   1863. 

294  Capitalist  Production. 

!No  doubt  in  certain  epochs  of  feverish  activity  the  labour- 
market  shows  significant  gaps.  In  1834,  e.g.  But  then  the 
manufacturers  proposed  to  the  Poor  Law  Commissioners  that 
they  should  send  the  "surplus-population"  of  the  agricultural 
districts  to  the  north,  with  the  explanation  "that  the  manu- 
facturers would  absorb  and  use  it  up."1  "Agents  were  ap- 
pointed with  the  consent  of  the  Poor  Law  Commissioners.  .  .  . 
An  office  was  set  up  in  Manchester,  to  which  lists  were  sent  of 
those  workpeople  in  the  agricultural  districts  wanting  employ- 
ment, and  their  names  were  registered  in  books.  The  manu- 
facturers attended  at  these  offices,  and  selected  such  persons  as 
they  chose;  when  they  had  selected  such  persons  as  their 
'wants  required,'  they  gave  instructions  to  have  them  for- 
warded to  Manchester,  and  they  were  sent,  ticketed  like  bales 
of  goods,  by  canals,  or  with  carriers,  others  tramping  on  the 
road,  and  many  of  them  were  found  on  the  way  lost  and  half- 
starved.  This  system  had  grown  up  into  a  regular  trade. 
This  House  will  hardly  believe  it,  but  I  tell  them,  that  this 
traffic  in  human  flesh  was  as  well  kept  up,  they  were  in  effect 
as  regularly  sold  to  these  [Manchester]  manufacturers  as  slaves 

are  sold  to  the  cotton-grower  in  the  United  States In 

18G0,  'the  cotton  trade  was  at  its  zenith.'  ....  The  manu- 
facturers again  found  that  they  were  short  of  hands.  .  .  .  They 
applied  to  the  'flesh  agents,'  as  they  are  called.  Those  agents 
sent  to  the  southern  downs  of  England,  to  the  pastures  of  Dor- 
setshire, to  the  glades  of  Devonshire,  to  the  people  tending 
kine  in  Wiltshire,  but  they  sought  in  vain.  The  surplus- 
population  was  'absorbed.'  "  The  "Bury  Guardian,"  said,  on 
the  completion  of  the  French  treaty,  that  "10,000  additional 
hands  could  be  absorbed  by  Lancashire,  and  that  30,000  or 
40,000  will  be  needed."  After  the  "flesh,  agents  and  sub- 
agents"  had  in  vain  sought  through  the  agricultural  districts, 
"a  deputation  came  up  to  London,  and  waited  on  the  right  hon. 
gentleman  [Mr.  Villiers,  President  of  the  Poor  Law  Board] 
with  a  view  of  obtaining  poor  children  from  certain  union 
houses  for  the  mills  of  Lancashire."2 

1  "Those  were  the  very  words  used  by  the   cotton  manufacturers,"   1.   c. 

2 1.    c.    Mr.    Villiers,    despite    the    best    of    intentions   on    his    part,    was    "legally" 

The  Working  Day.  295 

What  experience  shows  to  the  capitalist  generally  is  a  con- 
stant excess  of  population,  i.e.,  an  excess  in  relation  to  the 
momentary  requirements  of  surplus-labour-absorbing  capital, 
although  this  excess  is  made  up  of  generations  of  human  beings 
stunted,  short-lived,  swiftly  replacing  each  other,  plucked,  so 
to   say,    before   maturity.1      And,    indeed,    experience    shows   to 

obliged  to  refuse  the  requests  of  the  manufacturers.  These  gentlemen,  however, 
attained  their  end  through  the  obliging  nature  of  local  poor  law  boards.  Mr.  A. 
Redgrave,  Inspector  of  Factories,  asserts  that  this  time  the  system  under  which 
orphans  and  pauper  children  were  treated  "legally"  as  apprentices  "was  not  accom- 
panied with  the  old  abuses"  (on  these  "abuses"  see  Engels,  1.  c),  although  in  one 
case  there  certainly  was  "abuse  of  this  system  in  respect  to  a  number  of  girls  and 
young  women  brought  from  the  agricultural  districts  of  Scotland  into  Lancashire 
and  Cheshire."  Under  this  system  the  manufacturer  entered  into  a  contract  with 
the  workhouse  authorities  for  a  certain  period.  He  fed,  clothed,  and  lodged  the 
children,  and  gave  them  a  small  allowance  of  money.  A  remark  of  Mr.  Redgrave 
to  be  quoted  directly  seems  strange,  especially  if  we  consider  that  even  among  the 
years  of  prosperity  of  the  English  cotton  trade,  the  year  1860  stands  unparalleled, 
and  that,  besides,  wages  were  exceptionally  high.  For  this  extraordinary  demand 
for  work  had  to  contend  with  the  depopulation  of  Ireland,  with  une.\amp.ed  emigra- 
tion from  the  English  and  Scotch  agricultural  districts  to  Australia  and  America, 
with  an  actual  diminution  of  the  population  in  some  of  the  English  agricultural 
districts,  in  consequence  partly  of  an  actual  breakdown  of  the  vital  force  of  the 
labourers,  partly  of  the  already  effected  dispersion  of  the  disposable  population 
through  the  dealers  in  human  flesh.  Despite  all  this  Mr.  Redgrave  says:  "This 
kind  of  labour,  however,  would  only  be  sought  after  when  none  other  could  be 
procured,  for  it  is  a  high-priced  labour.  The  ordinary  wages  of  a  boy  of  13  would 
be  about  4s.  per  week,  but  to  lodge,  to  clothe,  to  feed,  and  to  provide  medical 
attendance  and  proper  superintendence  for  50  or  100  of  these  boys,  and  to  set 
aside  some  remuneration  lor  them,  could  not  be  accomplished  for  4s.  a-head  per 
week."  (Report  of  the  Inspector  of  Factories  for  30th  April,  1860,  p.  27.)  Mr. 
Redgrave  forgets  to  tell  us  how  the  labourer  himself  can  do  all  this  for  his  chil- 
dren out  of  their  4s.  a-week  wages,  when  the  manufacturer  cannot  do  it  for  the 
50  or  100  children  lodged,  boarded,  superintended  all  together.  To  guard  against 
false  conclusions  from  the  text,  I  ought  here  to  remark  that  the  English  cotton 
industry,  since  it  was  placed  under  the  Factory  Act  of  1850  with  its  regulations  of 
labour-time,  &c,  must  be  regarded  as  the  model  industry  of  England.  The  English 
cotton  operative  is  in  every  respect  better  off  than  his  continental  companion  in 
misery.  "The  Prussian  factory  operative  labours  at  least  ten  hours  per  week  more 
than  his  English  competitor,  and  if  employed  at  his  own  loom  in  his  own  house, 
his  labour  is  not  restricted  to  even  those  additional  hours."  ("Rep.  of  Insp.  of 
Fact.,"  Oct.  1853,  p.  103.)  Redgrave,  the  Factory  Inspector  mentioned  above,  after 
the  Industrial  Exhibition  in  1851,  travelled  on  the  Continent,  especially  in  France 
and  Germany,  for  the  purpose  of  inquiring  into  the  conditions  of  the  factories. 
Of  the  Prussian  operative  he  says:  "He  receives  a  remuueiation  sufficient  to  pro- 
cure the  simple  fare,  and  to  supply  the  slender  comforts  to  which  he  has  been 
accustomed.  ...  he  lives  upon  his  coarse  fare,  and  works  hard,  wherein  his 
position  is  subordinate  to  that  of  the  English  operative."  ("Rep.  of  Insp.  of  Fact.," 
31st   Oct.,    1353,   p.    85.) 

l  The  overworked  "die  off  with  strange  rapidity;  but  the  places  of  those  who 
perish  are  instantly  filled,  and  a  frequent  change  of  persons  makes  no  alteration 
in  the  scene."  ("England  and  America."  London,  1833,  vol.  I,  p.  55.  By  E.  G. 

296  Capitalist  Production. 

the  intelligent  observer  with  what  swiftness  and  grip  the 
capitalist  mode  of  production,  dating,  historically  speaking, 
only  from  yesterday,  has  seized  the  vital  power  of  the  people 
by  the  very  root — show  how  the  degeneration  of  the  industrial 
population  is  only  retarded  by  the  constant  absorption  of  prim- 
itive and  physically  uncorrupted  elements  from  the  country — 
shows  how  even  the  country  labourers,  in  spite  of  fresh  air 
and  the  principle  of  natural  selection,  that  works  so  power- 
fully amongst  them,  and  only  permits  the  survival  of  the 
strongest,  are  already  beginning  to  die  off.1  Capital  that  has 
such  good  reasons  for  denying  the  sufferings  of  the  legions  of 
workers  that  surround  it,  is  in  practice  moved  as  much  and  as 
little  by  the  sight  of  the  coming  degradation  and  final  de- 
population of  the  human  race,  as  by  the  probable  fall  of  the 
earth  into  the  sun.  In  every  stock- jobbing  swindle  every  one 
knows  that  some  time  or  other  the  crash  must  come,  but  every 
one  hopes  that  it  may  fall  on  the  head  of  his  neighbour,  after 
he  himself  has  caught  the  shower  of  gold  and  placed  it  irr 
safety.  Apres  moi  le  deluge!  is  the  watchword  of  every  cap- 
italist and  of  every  capitalist  nation.  Hence  Capital  is  reck- 
less of  the  health  or  length  of  life  of  the  labourer,  unless  under 
compulsion  from  society.2  To  the  outcry  as  to  the  physical 
and  mental  degradation,  the  premature  death,  the  torture  of 
overwork,  it  answers :  Ought  these  to  trouble  us  since  they  in- 

1  See  "Public  Health.  Sixth  Report  of  the  Medical  Officer  of  the  Privy  Council, 
1863."  Published  in  London  1864.  This  report  deals  especially  with  the  agricultural 
labourers.  "Sutherland  ...  is  commonly  represented  as  a  highly  improved 
county  .  .  .  but  .  .  .  recent  inquiry  has  discovered  that  even  there,  in 
districts  once  famous  for  fine  men  and  gallant  soldiers,  the  inhabitants  have  de- 
generated into  a  meagre  and  stunted  race.  In  the  healthiest  situations,  on  hill 
sides  fronting  the  sea,  the  faces  of  their  famished  children  are  as  pale  as  they 
could  be  in  the  foul  atmosphere  of  a  London  alley."  (W.  T.  Thornton.  "Over- 
population and  its  remedy."  1.  c,  p.  74,  75.)  They  resemble  in  fact  the  30,000 
''gallant  Highlanders"  whom  Glasgow  pigs  together  in  its  wynds  and  closes,  with 
prostitutes   and  thieves. 

2  "But  though  the  health  of  a  population  is  so  important  a  fact  of  the  national 
capital,  we  are  afraid  it  must  be  said  that  the  class  of  employers  of  labour  have  not 
been  the  most  forward  to  guard  and  cherish  this  treasure.  .  .  .  The  consider- 
ation of  the  health  of  the  operatives  was  forced  upon  the  millowners.  ("Times," 
November  5th,  1861.)  "The  men  of  the  West  Riding  became  the  clothiers  of 
mankind  .  .  .  the  health  of  the  workpeople  was  sacrificed,  and  the  race  in  a 
few  generations  must  have  degenerated.  But  a  reaction  set  in.  Lord  Shaftes- 
bury's Bill  limited  the  hours  of  children's  labour,"  &c.  ("Report  of  the  Registrar- 
General,"   for  October,   1861.) 

The  Working  Day.  297 

crease  our  profits  ?  But  looking  at  things  as  a  whole,  all  this 
does  not,  indeed,  depend  on  the  good  or  ill  will  of  the  in- 
dividual capitalist.  Free  competition  brings  out  the  inherent 
laws  of  capitalist  production,  in  the  shape  of  external  coercive 
laws  having  power  over  every  individual  capitalist.1 

The  establishment  of  a  normal  working  day  is  the  result  of 
centuries  of  struggle  between  capitalist  and  labourer.  The 
history  of  this  struggle  shows  two  opposed  tendencies.  Com- 
pare, e.g.,  the  English  factory  legislation  of  our  time  with  the 
English  Labour  Statutes  from  the  14th  century  to  well  into 
the  middle  of  the  18th.2  Whilst  the  modern  Factory  Acts 
compulsorily  shortened  the  working-day,  the  earlier  statutes 
tried  to  lengthen  it  by  compulsion.  Of  course  the  pretensions 
of  capital  in  embryo — when,  beginning  to  grow,  it  secures  the 
right  of  absorbing  a  quantum  sufficit  of  surplus-labour,  not 
merely  by  the  force  of  economic  relations,  but  by  the  help  of 
the  State — appear  very  modest  when  put  face  to  face  with  the 
concessions  that,  growling  and  struggling,  it  has  to  make  in  its 
adult  condition.  It  takes  centuries  ere  the  "free"  labourer, 
thanks  to  the  development  of  capitalistic  production,  agrees, 
i.e.,  is  compelled  by  social  conditions,  to  sell  the  whole  of  his 
active  life,  his  very  capacity  for  work,  for  the  price  of  the 
necessaries  of  life,  his  birthright  for  a  mess  of  pottage.  Hence 
it  is  natural  that  the  lengthening  of  the  working  day,  which 

1We,  therefore,  find,  e.g.,  that  in  the  beginning  of  1863,  26  firms  owning  ex- 
tensive potteries  in  Staffordshire,  amongst  others,  Josiah  Wedgwood,  &  Sons'  peti- 
tion in  a  memorial  for  "some  legislative  enactment."  Competition  with  other 
capitalists  permits  them  no  voluntary  limitation  of  working-time  for  children,  &c. 
"  Much  as  we  deplore  the  evils  before  mentioned,  it  would  not  be  possible  to  pre- 
vent them  by  any  scheme  of  agreement  between  the  manufacturers.  .  .  .  Taking 
all  these  points  into  consideration,  we  have  come  to  the  conviction  that  some  legis- 
lative enactment  is  wanted."  ("Children's  Employment  Comm."  Rep.  1.,  1863,  p. 
322.)  Most  recently  a  much  more  striking  example  offers.  The  rise  in  the  price 
of  cotton  during  a  period  of  feverish  activity,  had  induced  the  manufacturers  in 
Blackburn  to  shorten,  by  mutual  consent,  the  working-time  in  their  mills  during  a 
certain  fixed  period.  This  period  terminated  about  the  end  of  November,  1871. 
Meanwhile,  the  wealthier  manufacturers,  who  combined  spinning  with  weaving,  used 
the  diminution  of  production  resulting  from  this  agreement,  to  extend  their  own 
business  and  thus  to  make  great  profits  at  the  expense  of  the  small  employers.  The 
latter  thereupon  turned  in  their  extremity  to  the  operatives,  urged  them  earnestly 
to  agitate  for  the  9  hours'  system,  and  promised  contributions  in  money  to  this  end. 

2  The  Labour  Statutes,  the  like  of  which  were  enacted  at  the  same  time  in  France, 
the  Netherlands,  and  elsewhere,  were  first  formally  repealed  in  England  in  1813, 
long  after  the  changes  in  methods  of  production  had  rendered  them  obsolete. 

298  Capitalist  Production. 

capital,  from  the  middle  of  the  14th  to  the  end  of  the  17th 
century,  tries  to  impose  by  State-measures  on  adult  labourers, 
approximately  coincides  with  the  shortening  of  the  working 
day  which,  in  the  second  half  of  the  19th  century,  has  here  and 
there  been  effected  by  the  State  to  prevent  the  coining  of 
children's  blood  into  capital.  That  which  to-day,  e.g.,  in  the 
State  of  Massachusetts,  until  recently  the  freest  State  of  the 
North- American  Republic,  has  been  proclaimed  as  the  statutory 
limit  of  the  labour  of  children  under  12,  was  in  England,  even 
in  the  middle  of  the  17th  century,  the  normal  working-day  of 
able-bodied  artizans,  robust  labourers,  athletic  blacksmiths.1 

The  first  "Statute  of  Labourers"  (23  Edward  III.,  1349) 
found  its  immediate  pretext  (not  its  cause,  for  legislation  of 
this  kind  lasts  centuries  after  the  pretext  for  it  has  disap- 
peared) in  the  great  plague  that  decimated  the  people,  so  that, 
as  a  Tory  writer  says,  "The  difficulty  of  getting  men  to  work 
on  reasonable  terms  (i.e.,  at  a  price  that  left  their  employers 
a  reasonable  quantity  of  surplus-labour)  grew  to  such  a  height 
as  to  be  quite  intolerable."2  Reasonable  wages  were,  there- 
fore, fixed  by  law  as  well  as  the  limits  of  the  working  day. 
The  latter  point,  the  only  one  that  here  interests  us,  is  repeated 
in  the  Statute  of  1496  (Henry  VIII.).  The  working  day  for 
all  artificers  and  field  labourers  from  March  to  September 
ought,  according  to  this  statute  (which,  however,  could  not  be 
enforced),  to  last  from  5  in  the  morning  to  between  7  and  8 

1  "No  child  under  12  years  of  age  shall  be  employed  in  any  manufacturing  estab- 
lishment more  than  10  hours  in  one  day."  General  Statutes  of  Massachusetts,  63, 
ch.  12.  (The  various  Statutes  were  passed  between  1836  and  1858.)  "Labour  per- 
formed during  a  period  of  10  hours  on  any  day  in  all  cotton,  woollen,  silk,  paper, 
glass,  and  flax  factories,  or  in  manufactories  of  iron  and  brass,  shall  be  considered 
a  legal  day's  labour.  And  be  it  enacted,  that  hereafter  no  minor  engaged  in  any 
factory  shall  be  holden  or  required  to  work  more  than  10  hours  in  any  day,  or 
60  hours  in  any  week;  and  that  hereafter  no  minor  shall  be  admitted  as  a  worker 
under  the  age  of  10  years  in  any  factory  within  this  State."  State  of  New  Jersey. 
An  Act  to  limit  the  hours  of  labour,  &c,  61  and  62.  (Law  of  11th  March,  1855.) 
"No  minor  who  has  attained  the  age  of  12  years,  and  is  under  the  age  of  15 
years,  shall  be  employed  in  any  manufacturing  establishment  more  than  11  hours 
in  any  one  day,  nor  before  5  o'clock  in  the  morning,  nor  after  7.30  in  the  evening." 
("Revised  Statutes  of  the  State  of  Rhode  Island,"  &c,  ch.  39,  §  23,  1st  July,  1857.) 

2  "Sophisms  of  Free  Trade."  7th  Ed.  London,  1850,  p.  205.  9th  Ed.,  p.  253. 
This  same  Tory,  moreover,  admits  that  "Acts  of  Parliament  regulating  wages,  but 
against  the  labourer  and  in  favour  of  the  master,  lasted  for  the  long  period  of 
404  years.  Population  grew.  These  laws  were  then  found,  and  really  became,  un- 
necessary and  burdensome."      (1.   c.,   p.   206.) 

The  Working  Day.  299 

in  the  evening.  But  the  meal  times  consist  of  1  hour  for 
breakfast,  1^  hours  for  dinner,  and  ^  an  hour  for  "noon- 
meate,"  i.e.,  exactly  twice  as  much  as  under  the  factory  acts 
now  in  force.1  In  winter,  work  was  to  last  from  5  in  the 
morning  until  dark,  with  the  same  intervals.  A  statute  of 
Elizabeth  of  1562  leaves  the  length  of  the  working  day  for  all 
labourers  "hired  for  daily  or  weekly  wage"  untouched,  but 
aims  at  limiting  the  intervals  to  2-|  hours  in  the  summer,  or 
to  2  in  the  winter.  Dinner  is  only  to  last  1  hour,  and  the 
"afternoon-sleep  of  half  an  hour"  is  only  allowed  between  the 
middle  of  May  and  the  middle  of  August.  For  every  hour  of 
absence  Id.  is  to  be  subtracted  from  the  wage.  In  practice, 
however,  the  conditions  were  much  more  favourable  to  the 
labourers  than  in  the  statute-book.  William  Petty,  the  father 
of  political  economy,  and  to  some  extent  the  founder  of  Sta- 
tistics, says  in  a  work  that  he  published  in  the  last  third  of  the 
17th  century:  "Labouring-men  (then  meaning  field-labourers) 
work  10  hours  per  diem,  and  make  20  meals  per  week,  viz.,  3 
a  day  for  working  days,  and  2  on  Sundays ;  whereby  it  is  plain, 
that  if  they  could  fast  on  Fryday  nights,  and  dine  in  one  hour 
and  a  half,  whereas  they  take  two,  from  eleven  to  one ;  thereby 
this  working  £$■  more,  and  spending  ^j-  less,  the  above-men- 
tioned (tax)  might  be  raised."  2  Was  not  Dr.  Andrew  Ure 
right  in  crying  down  the  12  hours'  bill  of  1833  as  a  retrogres- 
sion to  the  times  of  the  dark  ages?  It  is  true,  these  regula- 
tions contained  in  the  statute  mentioned  by  Petty,  apply  also  to 
apprentices.  But  the  condition  of  child-labour,  even  at  the 
end  of  the  17th  century,  is  seen  from  the  following  complaint: 
"'Tis  not  their  practice  (in  Germany)  as  with  us  in  this  king- 

1  In  reference  to  this  statute,  J.  Wade  with  truth  remarks:  "From  the  statement 
above  (*.  e.,  with  regard  to  the  statute)  it  appears  that  in  1496  the  diet  was  con- 
sidered equivalent  to  one  third  of  the  income  of  an  artificer  and  one-half  the  income 
of  a  labourer,  which  indicates  a  greater  degree  of  independence  among  the  working 
classes  than  prevails  at  present;  for  the  board,  both  of  labourers  and  artificers, 
would  now  be  reckoned  at  a  much  higher  proportion  of  their  wages."  (J.  Wade, 
"History  of  the  Middle  and  Working  Classes,"  p.  24,  25,  and  577.)  The  opinion 
that  this  difference  is  due  to  the  difference  in  the  price-relations  between  food  and 
clothing  then  and  now  is  refuted  by  the  most  cursory  glance  at  "Chronicon  Pre- 
tiosum,  &c."     By  Bishop  Fleetwood.     1st  Ed.,  London,  1707;  2d  Ed.,  London,  174S. 

2W.  Petty,  "Political  Anatomy  of  Ireland.  Verbum  Sapienti,"  1762,  Ed.  1691. 
p.  10. 

300  Capitalist  Production. 

dom,  to  bind  an  apprentice  for  seven  years;  three  or  four  is 
their  common  standard :  and  the  reason  is,  because  they  are 
educated  from  their  cradle  to  something  of  employment,  which 
renders  them  the  more  apt  and  docile,  and  consequently  the  more 
capable  of  attaining  to  a  ripeness  and  quicker  proficiency  in 
business.  Whereas  our  youth,  here  in  England,  being  bred  to 
nothing  before  they  come  to  be  apprentices,  make  a  very  slow 
progress  and  require  much  longer  time  wherein  to  reach  the 
perfection  of  accomplished  artists."1 

Still,  during  the  greater  part  of  the  18th  century,  up  to  the 
epoch  of  Modern  Industry  and  machinism,  capital  in  England 
had  not  succeeded  in  seizing  for  itself,  by  the  payment  of  the 
weekly  value  of  labour-power,  the  whole  week  of  the  labourer 
with  the  exception,  however,  of  the  agricultural  labourers. 
The  fact  that  they  could  live  for  a  whole  week  on  the  wage  of 
four  days,  did  not  appear  to  the  labourers  a  sufficient  reason 
that  they  should  work  the  other  two  days  for  the  capitalist. 
One  party  of  English  economists,  in  the  interest  of  capital,  de- 
nounces this  obstinacy  in  the  most  violent  manner,  another 

1  "A  Discourse  on  the  necessity  of  encouraging  Mechanick  Industry,"  London, 
1689,  p.  13.  Macaulay,  who  has  falsified  English  history  in  the  interest  of  the 
Whigs  and  the  bourgeoisie,  declares  as  follows:  "The  practice  of  setting  children 
prematurely  to  work  .  .  .  prevailed  in  the  17th  century  to  an  extent  which, 
when  compared  with  the  extent  of  the  manufacturing  system,  seems  almost  incred- 
ible. At  Norwich,  the  chief  seat  of  the  clothing  trade,  a  little  creature  of  six  years 
old  was  thought  fit  for  labour.  Several  writers  of  that  time,  and  among  them  some 
who  were  considered  as  eminently  benevolent,  mention  with  exultation  the  fact 
that  in  that  single  city,  boys  and  girls  of  very  tender  age  create  wealth  exceeding 
what  was  necessary  for  their  own  subsistence  by  twelve  thousand  pounds  a  year. 
The  more  carefully  we  examine  the  history  of  the  past,  the  more  reason  shall  we 
find  to  dissent  from  those  who  imagine  that  our  age  has  been  fruitful  of  new 
social  evils.  .  .  .  That  which  is  new  is  the  intelligence  and  the  humanity  which 
remedies  them."  ("History  of  England,"  vol.  I.,  p.  419.)  Macaulay  might  have 
reported  further  that  "extremely  well-disposed"  amis  du  commerce  in  the  17th 
century,  narrate  with  "exultation"  how  in  a  poorhouse  in  Holland  a  child  of  four 
was  employed,  and  that  this  example  of  "vertu  mise  en  pratique"  passes  muster  in 
all  the  humanitarian  works,  a  la  Macaulay,  to  the  time  of  Adam  Smith.  It  is 
true  that  with  the  substitution  of  manufacture  for  handicrafts,  traces  of  the  exploi- 
tation of  children  begin  to  appear.  This  exploitation  existed  always  to  a  certain 
extent  among  peasants,  and  was  the  more  developed,  the  heavier  the  yoke  pressing 
on  the  husbandman.  The  tendency  of  capital  is  there  unmistakably;  but  the  facts 
themselves  are  still  as  isolated  as  the  phenomena  of  two-headed  children.  Hence 
they  were  noted  "with  exultation"  as  especially  worthy  of  remark  and  as  wonders 
by  the  far-seeing  "amis  du  commerce,"  and  recommended  as  models  for  their  own 
time  and  for  posterity.  This  same  Scotch  sycophant  and  fine  talker,  Macaulay, 
says:  "We  hear  to-day  only  of  retrogression  and  see  only  progress."  What  eyes, 
and  especially   what  ears! 

The  Working  Day.  301 

party  defends  the  labourers.  Let  us  listen,  e.g.,  to  the  contest 
between  Postlethwayt  whose  Dictionary  of  Trade  then  had  the 
same  reputation  as  the  kindred  works  of  M'Culloch  and 
M'Gregor  to-day,  and  the  author  (already  quoted)  of  the 
"Essay  on  Trade  and  Commerce."1 

Postlethwayt  says  among  other  things :  "We  cannot  put  an 
end  "to  those  few  observations,  without  noticing  that  trite  re- 
mark in  the  mouth  of  too  many ;  that  if  the  industrious  poor 
can  obtain  enough  to  maintain  themselves  in  five  days,  they 
will  not  work  the  whole  six.  Whence  they  infer  the  necessity 
of  even  the  necessaries  of  life  being  made  dear  by  taxes,  or  any 
other  means,  to  compel  the  working  artizan  and  manufacturer 
to  labour  the  whole  six  days  in  the  week,  without  ceasing.  I 
must  beg  leave  to  differ  in  sentiment  from  those  great 
politicians,  who  contend  for  the  perpetual  slavery  of  the  work- 
ing people  of  this  kingdom ;  they  forget  the  vulgar  adage,  all 
work  and  no  play.  Have  not  the  English  boasted  of  the  in- 
genuity and  dexterity  of  her  working  artists  and  manufacturers 
which  have  heretofore  given  credit  and  reputation  to  British 
wares  in  general  ?  What  has  this  been  owing  to  ?  To  nothing 
more  probably  than  the  relaxation  of  the  working  people  in 
their  own  way.  Were  they  obliged  to  toil  the  year  round,  the 
whole  six  days  in  the  week,  in  a  repetition  of  the  same  work, 
might  it  not  blunt  their  ingenuity,  and  render  them  stupid  in- 
stead of  alert  and  dexterous ;  and  might  not  our  workmen  lose 
their  reputation  instead  of  maintaining  it  by  such  eternal 
slavery  ?  .  .  .  .  And  what  sort  of  workmanship  could  we  ex- 
pect from  such  hard-driven  animals  ?  .  .  .  .  Many  of  them 
will  execute  as  much  work  in  four  days  as  a  Frenchman  will  in 

1  Among  the  accusers  of  the  workpeople,  the  most  angry  is  the  anonymous  author 
quoted  in  the  text  of  "An  Essay  on  trade  and  commerce,  containing  observations  on 
Taxation,  &c,  London,  1770."  He  had  already  dealt  with  this  subject  in  his  earlier 
work:  "Considerations  on  Taxes."  London,  1765.  On  the  same  side  follows 
Polonius  Arthur  Young,  the  unutterable  statistical  prattler.  Among  the  defenders 
of  the  working  classes  the  foremost  are:  Jacob  Vanderlint,  in:  "Money  answers 
all  things."  London,  1734;  the  Rev.  Nathaniel  Forster,  D.D. ;  in  "An  Enquiry  into 
the  Causes  of  the  Present  Price  of  Provisions/'  London,  176G;  Dr.  Price,  and 
especially  Postlethwayt,  as  well  in  the  supplement  to  his  "Universal  Dictionary  of 
Trade  and  Commerce,"  as  in  his  "Great  Britain's  Commercial  Interest  explained  and 
improved."  2nd  Edition,  1755.  The  facts  themselves  are  confirmed  by  many  other 
writers  of  the   time,  among   others  by  Josiah  Tucker. 

3<D2  Capitalist  Production. 

five  or  six.  But  if  Englishmen  are  to  be  eternal  drudges,  'tis 
to  be  feared  they  will  degenerate  below  the  Frenchmen.  As 
our  people  are  famed  for  bravery  in  war,  do  we  not  say  that  it 
is  owing  to  good  English  roast  beef  and  pudding  in  their 
bellies,  as  well  as  their  constitutional  spirit  of  liberty  ?  And 
why  may  not  the  superior  ingenuity  and  dexterity  of  our 
artists  and  manufactures,  be  owing  to  that  freedom  and  liberty 
to  direct  themselves  in  their  own  way,  and  I  hope  we  shall 
never  have  them  deprived  of  such  privileges  and  that  good 
living  from  whence  their  ingenuity  no  less  than  their  courage 
may  proceed."1  Thereupon  the  author  of  the  "Essay  on  Trade 
and  Commerce"  replies:  "If  the  making  of  every  seventh 
day  an  holiday  is  supposed  to  be  of  divine  institution,  as  it 
implies  the  appropriating  the  other  six  days  to  labour"  (he 
means  capital  as  we  shall  soon  see)    "surely  it  will  not  be 

thought  cruel  to   enforce   it That  mankind  in 

.general,  are  naturally  inclined  to  ease  and  indolence,  we  fatally 
experience  to  be  true,  from  the  conduct  of  our  manufacturing 
populace,  who  do  not  labour,  upon  an  average,  above  four  days 

in  a  week,  unless  provisions  happen  to  be  very  dear 

Put  all  the  necessaries  of  the  poor  under  one  denomination ; 
for  instance,  call  them  all  wheat,  or  suppose  that  ....  the 
bushel  of  wheat  shall  cost  five  shillings  and  that  he  (a  manu- 
facturer) earns  a  shilling  by  his  labour,  he  then  would  be 
obliged  to  work  five  days  only  in  a  week.  If  the  bushel  of 
wheat  should  cost  but  four  shillings,  he  would  be  obliged  to 
work  but  four  days ;  but  as  wages  in  this  kingdom  are  much 
higher  in  proportion  to  the  price  of  necessaries.  .  .  .  the 
manufacturer,  who  labours  four  days,  has  a  surplus  of  money 
to  live  idle  with  the  rest  of  the  week  ....  I  hope  I 
have  said  enough  to  make  it  appear  that  the  moderate  labour 
of  six  days  in  a  week  is  no  slavery.  Our  labouring  people  do 
this,  and  to  all  appearance  are  the  happiest  of  all  our  labour- 
ing poor,2  but  the  Dutch  do  this  in  manufactures,  and  appear 
to  be  a  very  happy  people.     The  French  do  so,  when  holidays 

1  Postlethwayt,  1.  c,  "First  Preliminary  Discourse,"  p.  14. 

*  "An  Essay,"  &c.  He  himself  relates  on  p.  96  wherein  the  "happiness"  of  the 
English  agricultural  labour  already  in  1770  consisted.  "Their  powers  are  alwayi 
upon  the  stretch,  they  cannot  live  cheaper  than  they  do,  nor  work  harder." 

The  Working  Day.  303 

do  not  intervene.1  But  our  populace  have  adopted  a  notion, 
that  as  Englishmen  they  enjoy  a  birthright  privilege  of  being 
more  free  and  independent  than  in  any  country  in  Europe. 
Now  this  idea,  as  far  as  it  may  affect  the  bravery  of  our  troops, 
may  be  of  some  use ;  but  the  less  the  manufacturing  poor  have 
of  it,  certainly  the  better  for  themselves  and  for  the  State. 
The  labouring  people  should  never  think  themselves  independ- 
ent of  their  superiors It  is  extremely  dangerous  to 

encourage  mobs  in  a  commercial  state  like  ours,  where,  per- 
haps, seven  parts  out  of  eight  of  the  whole,  are  people  with 
little  or  no  property.  The  cure  will  not  be  perfect,  till  our 
manufacturing  poor  are  contented  to  labour  six  days  for  the 
same  sum  which  they  now  earn  in  four  days."2  To  this  end, 
and  for  "extirpating  idleness,  debauchery  and  excess,"  promot- 
ing a  spirit  of  industry,  "lowering  the  price  of  labour  in  our 
manufactories,  and  easing  the  lands  of  the  heavy  burden  of 
poor's  rates,"  our  "faithful  Eckart"  of  capital  proposes  this 
approved  device :  to  shut  up  such  labourers  as  become  depend- 
ent on  public  support,  in  a  word,  paupers,  in  "an  ideal  worlc- 
house."  Such  ideal  workhouse  must  be  made  a  "House  of 
Terror,"  and  not  an  asylum,  for  the  poor,  "where  they  are  to 
be  plentifully  fed,  warmly  and  decently  clothed,  and  where 
they  do  but  little  work."3  In  this  "House  of  Terror,"  this 
"ideal  workhouse,  the  poor  shall  work  11  hours  in  a  day, 
allowing  proper  time  for  meals,  in  such  manner  that  there  shall 
remain  12  hours  of  neat-labour."4 

Twelve  working  hours  daily  in  the  Ideal  Workhouse,  in  the 
"House  of  Terror"  of  1770 !  63  years  later,  in  1833,  when  the 
English  Parliament  reduced  the  working  day  for  children  of 
13  to  18,  in  four  branches  of  industry  to  12  full  hours,  the 
judgment  day  of  English  Industry  had  dawned!     In  1852, 

1  Protestantism,  by  changing  almost  all  the  traditional  holidays  into  workdays, 
plays  an  important  part  in  the  genesis  of  capital. 

2  "An  Essay,"  &c,  p.  15,  41,  96,  97,  55,  57,  69. — Jacob  Vanderlint,  as  early  as 
1734,  declared  that  the  secret  of  the  out-cry  of  the  capitalists  as  to  the  laziness  of 
the  working  people  was  simply  that  they  claimed  for  the  same  wages  6  days'  labour 
instead  of  4. 

al.   c.   p.   242. 

*  1.  c.  "The  French,"  he  says,  "laugh  at  our  enthusiastic  ideas  of  liberty."  1.  c. 
p.  78. 

304  Capitalist  Production. 

when  Louis  Bonaparte  sought  to  secure  his  position  with  the 
bourgeoisie  by  tampering  with  the  legal  working  day,  the 
Trench  people  cried  out  with  one  voice  "the  law  that  limits 
the  working  day  to  12  hours  is  the  one  good  that  has  remained 
to  us  of  the  legislation  of  the  Kepublic  I"1.  At  Zurich  the  work 
of  children  over  10,  is  limited  to  12  hours;  in  Aargau  in  1862, 
the  work  of  children  between  13  and  16,  was  reduced  from 
12|  to  12  hours;  in  Austria  in  1860,  for  children  between  14 
and  16,  the  same  reduction  was  made.2  "What  a  progress," 
since  1770  !     Macaulay  would  shout  with  exultation  ! 

The  "House  of  Terror"  for  paupers  of  which  the  capitalistic 
soul  of  1770  only  dreamed,  was  realized  a  few  years  later  in 
the  shape  of  a  gigantic  "Workhouse"  for  the  industrial  worker 
himself.  It  is  called  the  Factory.  And  the  ideal  this  time 
fades  before  the  reality. 


THE  ENGLISH  FACTORY  ACTS,  1833   TO  1864. 

After  capital  had  taken  centuries  in  extending  the  working- 
day  to  its  normal  maximum  limit,  and  then  beyond  this  to  the 
limit  of  the  natural  clay  of  12  hours,3  there  followed  on  the 
birth  of  machinism  and  modern  industry  in  the  last  third  of 

1  "They  especially  objected  to  work  beyond  the  12  hours  per  day,  because  the  law 
which  fixed  those  hours,  is  the  only  good  which  remains  to  them  of  the  legislation 
of  the  Republic."  ("Rep.  of  Insp.  of  Fact.,"  31st  October,  1856,  p.  80.)  The 
French  Twelve  hours'  Bill  of  September  5th,  1850,  a  bourgeois  edition  of  the  decree 
of  the  Provisional  Government  of  March  2nd,  1848,  holds  in  all  workshops  without 
exceptions.  Before  this  law  the  working  day  in  France  was  without  definite  limit. 
It  lasted  in  the  factories  14,  15,  or  more  hours.  See  "Des  classes  ouvrieres  en 
France  pendant  l'annee  1848.  Par  M.  Blanqui."  M.  Blanqui  the  economist,  not  the 
Revolutionist,  had  been  entrusted  by  the  Government  with  an  inquiry  into  the  con- 
dition of  the  working  class. 

2  Belgium  is  the  model  bourgeois  state  in  regard  to  the  regulation  of  the  working 
day.  Lord  Howard  of  Welden,  English  Plenipotentiary  at  Brussels,  reports  to  the 
Foreign  Office,  May  12th,  1862:  "M.  Rogier,  the  minister,  informed  me  that 
children's  labour  is  limited  neither  by  a  general  law  nor  by  any  local  regulations; 
that  the  Government,  during  the  last  three  years,  intended  in  every  session  to  pro- 
pose a  bill  on  the  subject,  but  always  found  an  insuperable  obstacle  in  the  jealous 
opposition  to  any  legislation  in  contradiction  with  the  principle  of  perfect  freedom  of 

3  "It  is  certainly  much  to  be  regretted  that  any  class  of  persons  should  toil  12 
hours  a  day,  which,  including  the  time  for  their  meals  and  for  going  to  and  re- 
turning from  their  work,  amounts,  in   fact,  to  14  of  the  24  hours.    .    .    .    Without 

The  Working  Day.  305 

the  18th.  century,  a  violent  encroachment  like  that  of  an 
avalanche  in  its  intensity  and  extent.  All  bounds  of  morals 
and  nature,  age  and  sex,  day  and  night,  were  broken  down. 
Even  the  ideas  of  day  and  night,  of  rustic  simplicity  in  the  old 
statutes,  became  so  confused  that  an  English  judge,  as  late  as 
1860,  needed  a  quite  Talmudic  sagacity  to  explain  "judicially" 
what  was  day  and  what  was  night.1  Capital  celebrated  its 

As  soon  as  the  working  class,  stunned  at  first  by  the  noise 
and  turmoil  of  the  new  system  of  production,  recovered,  in 
some  measure,  its  senses,  its  resistance  began,  and  first  in  the 
native  land  of  machinism,  in  England.  Eor  30  years,  how- 
ever, the  concessions  conquered  by  the  workpeople  were  purely 
nominal.  Parliament  passed  5  Labour  Laws  between  1802 
and  1833,  but  was  shrewd  enough  not  to  vote  a  penny  for  their 
carrying  out,  for  the  requisite  officials,  &c.2 

They  remained  a  dead  letter.  "The  fact  is,  that  prior  to  the 
Act  of  1833,  young  persons  and  children  were  worked  all  night, 
all  day,  or  both  ad  libitum/'3 

A  normal  working  day  for  modern  industry  only  dates  from 
the  Factory  Act  of  1833,  which  included  cotton,  wool,  flax,  and 
silk  factories.     Nothing  is  more  characteristic  of  the  spirit  of 

entering  into  the  question  of  health,  no  one  will  hesitate,  I  think,  to  admit  that,  in  a 
moral  point  of  view,  so  entire  an  absorption  of  the  time  of  the  working  classes, 
without  intermission,  from  the  early  age  of  13,  and  in  trades  not  subject  to  restric- 
tion, much  younger,  must  be  extremely  prejudicial,  and  is  an  evil  greatly  to  be  de- 
plored ....  For  the  sake,  therefore,  of  public  morals,  of  bringing  up  an  orderly 
population,  and  of  giving  the  great  body  of  the  people  a  reasonable  enjoyment  of 
life,  it  is  much  to  be  desired  that  in  all  trades  some  portion  of  every  working  day 
6hould  be  reserved  for  rest  and  leisure."  (Leonard  Horner  in  Reports  of  Insp.  of 
Fact,  Dec,  1841.) 

1  See  "Judgment  of  Mr.  J.  H.  Otwey,  Belfast.  Hilary  Sessions,  County  Antrim, 

s  It  is  very  characteristic  of  the  regime  of  Louis  Philippe,  the  bourgeois  king,  that 
the  one  Factory  Act  passed  during  his  reign,  that  of  March  22nd,  1841,  was  never 
put  in  force.  And  this  law  only  dealt  with  child-labour.  It  fixed  8  hours  a  day  for 
children  between  8  and  12,  12  hours  for  children  between  12  and  16,  &c,  with  many 
exceptions  which  allow  night-work  even  for  children  8  years  old.  The  supervision 
and  enforcement  of  this  law  are,  in  a  country  where  every  mouse  is  under  police 
administration,  left  to  the  good-will  of  the  amis  du  commerce.  Only  since  1S53, 
in  one  single  department — the  Departement  du  Nord — has  a  paid  government  in- 
spector been  appointed.  Not  less  characteristic  of  the  development  of  French  so- 
ciety, generally,  is  the  fact,  that  Louis  Philippe's  law  stood  solitary  among  the  ail- 
embracing  mass  of  French  laws,  till  the  Revolution  of  1848. 

*  "Report  of  Ins,o.  of  Fact.,"  30th  April,  1860,  p.  50. 


306  Capitalist  Production. 

capital  than  the  history  of  the  English  Factory  Acts  from  1833 
to  1864. 

The  Act  of  1833  declares  the  ordinary  factory  working  day 
to  be  from  half-past  five  in  the  morning  to  half-past  eight  in 
the  evening,  and  within  these  limits,  a  period  of  15  hours,  it  is 
lawful  to  employ  young  persons  {i.e.,  persons  between  13  and 
18  years  of  age),  at  any  time  of  the  day,  provided  no  one  in- 
dividual young  person  should  work  more  than  12  hours  in  any 
one  day,  except  in  certain  cases  especially  provided  for.  The 
6th  section  of  the  Act  provided:  "That  there  shall  be  allowed 
in  the  course  of  every  day  not  less  than  one  and  a  half  hours  for 
meals  to  every  such  person  restricted  as  hereinbefore  pro- 
vided." The  employment  of  children  under  9,  with  excep- 
tions mentioned  later,  was  forbidden ;  the  work  of  children 
between  9  and  13  was  limited  to  8  hours  a  day,  night  work, 
i.e.,  according  to  this  Act,  work  between  8.30  p.m.  and  5.30 
a.m.,  was  forbidden  for  all  persons  between  9  and  18. 

The  law-makers  were  so  far  from  wishing  to  trench  on  the 
freedom  of  capital  to  exploit  adult  labour-power,  or,  as  they 
called  it,  "the  freedom  of  labour,"  that  they  created  a  special 
system  in  order  to  prevent  the  Factory  Acts  from  having  a 
consequence  so  outrageous. 

"The  great  evil  of  the  factory  system  as  at  present  con- 
ducted," says  the  first  report  of  the  Central  Board  of  the  Com- 
mission of  June  28th,  1833,  "has  appeared  to  us  to  be  that  it 
entails  the  necessity  of  continuing  the  labour  of  children  to 
the  utmost  length  of  that  of  the  adults.  The  only  remedy  for 
this  evil,  short  of  the  limitation  of  the  labour  of  adults,  which 
would,  in  our  opinion,  create  an  evil  greater  than  that  which  is 
sought  to  be  remedied,  appears  to  be  the  plan  of  working 
double  sets  of  children."  .  .  .  Under  the  name  of  System 
of  Relays,  this  "plan"  was  therefore  carried  out,  so  that,  e.g., 
from  5.30  a.m.  until  1.30  in  the  afternoon,  one  set  of  children 
between  9  and  13,  and  from  1.30  p.m.  to  8.30  in  the  evening 
another  set  were  "put  to,"  &c. 

In  order  to  reward  the  manufacturers  for  having,  in  the 
most  barefaced  way,  ignored  all  the  Acts  as  to  children's  labour 
passed   during  the  last  twenty-two   years,   the   bill   was  yet 

The  Working  Day.  307 

further  gilded  for  them.  Parliament  decreed  that  after  March 
1st,  1834,  no  child  under  11,  after  March  1st,  1835,  no  child 
under  12,  and  after  March  1st,  1836,  no  child  under  13,  was  to 
work  more  than  eight  hours  in  a  factory.  This  "liberalism," 
so  full  consideration  for  "capital,"  was  the  more  noteworthy 
as,  Dr.  Farre,  Sir  A.  Carlisle,  Sir  B.  Brodie,  Sir  C.  Bell,  Mr. 
Guthrie,  &c,  in  a  word,  the  most  distinguished  physicians  and 
surgeons  in  London,  had  declared  in  their  evidenec  before  the 
House  of  Commons,  that  there  was  danger  in  delay.  Dr. 
Farre  expressed  himself  still  more  coarsely.  "Legislation  is 
necessary  for  the  prevention  of  death,  in  any  form  in  which  it 
can  be  prematurely  inflicted,  and  certainly  this  {i.e.,  the  fac- 
tory method)  must  be  viewed  as  a  most  cruel  mode  of  in- 
flicting it." 

That  same  "reformed"  Parliament,  which  in  its  delicate 
consideration  for  the  manufacturers,  condemned  children 
under  13,  for  years  to  come,  to  72  hours  of  work  per  week  in 
the  Factory  Hell,  on  the  other  hand,  in  the  Emancipation  Act, 
which  also  administered  freedom  drop  by  drop,  forbade  the 
planters,  from  the  outset,  to  work  any  negro  slave  more  than 
45  hours  a  week. 

But  in  no  wise  conciliated  capital  now  began  a  noisy  agita- 
tion that  went  on  for  several  years.  It  turned  chiefly  on  the 
age  of  those  who,  under  the  name  of  children,  were  limited  to 
8  hours  work,  and  were  subject  to  a  certain  amount  of  com- 
pulsory education.  According  to  capitalistic  anthropology,  the 
age  of  childhood  ended  at  10,  or  at  the  outside,  at  11.  The 
more  nearly  the  time  approached  for  the  coming  into  full  force 
of  the  Factory  Act,  the  fatal  year  1836,  the  more  wildly  raged 
the  mob  of  manufacturers.  They  managed,  in  fact,  to  in- 
timidate the  government  to  such  an  extent  that  in  1835  it  pro- 
posed to  lower  the  limit  of  the  age  of  childhood  from  13  to  12. 
In  the  meantime  the  pressure  from  without  grew  more  threat- 
ening. Courage  failed  the  House  of  Commons.  It  refused  to 
throw  children  of  13  under  the  Juggernaut  Car  of  capital  for 
more  than  8  hours  a  day,  and  the  Act  of  1833  came  into  full 
operation.     It  remained  unaltered  until  June,  1811. 

In  the  ten  years  during  which  it  regulated  factory  work, 

308  Capitalist  Production. 

first  in  part,  and  then  entirely,  the  official  reports  of  the  factory 
inspectors  teem  with  complaints  as  to  the  impossibility  of 
putting  the  Act  into  force.  As  the  law  of  1833  left  it  optional 
with  the  lords  of  capital  during  the  15  hours,  from  5.30  a.m. 
to  8.30  p.m.,  to  make  every  "young  person,"  and  "every  child" 
begin,  break  off,  resume,  or  end  his  12  or  8  hours  at  any 
moment  they  liked,  and  also  permitted  them  to  assign  to  differ- 
ent persons  different  times  for  meals,  these  gentlemen  soon 
discovered  a  new  "system  of  relays,"  by  which  the  labour- 
horses  were  not  changed  at  fixed  stations,  but  wer  constantly 
re-harnessed  at  changing  stations.  We  do  not  pause  longer  i  . 
the  beauty  of  this  system,  as  we  shall  have  to  return  to  it  later. 
But  this  much  is  clear  at  the  first  glance:  that  this  system 
annulled  the  whole  Factory  Act,  not  only  in  the  spirit,  but  in 
the  letter.  How  could  factory  inspectors,  with  this  complex 
book-keeping  in  respect  to  each  individual  child  or  young 
person,  enforce  the  legally  determined  work  time  and  tho 
granting  of  the  legal  meal-times  ?  In  a  great  many  of  the 
factories,  the  old  brutalities  soon  blossomed  out  agai  um 
punished.  In  an  interview  with  the  Home  Secretary  (1844), 
the  factory  inspectors  demonstrated  the  impossibility  of  any 
control  under  the  newly  invented  relay  system.1  In  the  mean- 
time, however,  circumstances  had  greatly  changed.  The  fac- 
tory hands,  especially  since  1838,  had  made  the  Ten  Hours' 
Bill  their  economical,  as  they  had  made  the  Charter  theii 
political,  election-cry.  Some  of  the  manufacturers,  even,  who 
had  managed  their  factories  in  conformity  with  the  Act  of 
1833,  overwhelmed  Parliament  with  memorials  on  the  im- 
moral competition  of  their  false  brethren  whom  greater  impu- 
dence, or  more  fortunate  local  circumstances,  enabled  to  break 
the  law.  Moreover,  however  much  the  individual  manufac- 
turer might  give  the  rein  to  his  old  lust  for  gain,  the  spokes- 
men and  political  leaders  of  the  manufacturing  class  ordered 
a  change  of  front  and  of  speech  towards  the  workpeople.  They 
had  entered  upon  the  contest  for  the  repeal  of  the  Corn  Laws, 
and  needed  the  workers  to  help  them  to  victory.  They  prom- 
ised, therefore,  not  only  a  double-sized  loaf  of  bread,  but  the 

1  "Rept.  of  Insp.  of  Fact.,"  31st  October,  1849,  p.  6. 

The  Working  Day.  309 

enactment  of  the  Ten  Hours'  Bill  in  the  Free  Trade  millen- 
imn.1  Thus  they  still  less  dared  to  oppose  a  measure  intended 
only  to  make  the  law  of  1833  a  reality.  Threatened  in  their 
holiest  interest,  the  rent  of  land,  the  Tories  thundered  with 
philanthropic  indignation  against  the  "nefarious  practices"2 
of  their  foes. 

This  was  the  origin  of  the  additional  Factory  Act  of  June 
7th,  1844.  It  came  into  effect  on  September  10th,  1844.  It 
places  under  protection  a  new  category  of  workers,  viz.,  the 
women  over  18.  They  were  placed  in  every  respect  on  the 
same  footing  as  the  young  persons,  their  work  time  limited  to 
twelve  hours,  their  night-labour  forbidden,  &c.  For  the  first 
time,  legislation  saw  itself  compelled  to  control  directly  and 
officially  the  labour  of  adults.  In  the  Factory  Report  of  1844- 
1845,  it  is  said  with  irony :  "JSTo  instances  have  come  to  my 
knowledge  of  adult  women  having  expressed  any  regret  at 
their  rights  being  thus  far  interfered  with."3  The  working 
time  of  children  under  13  was  reduced  to  6-J,  and  in  certain 
circumstances  to  7  hours  a-day.4 

To  get  rid  of  the  abuses  of  the  "spurious  relay-system,"  the 
law  established  besides  others  the  following  important  regula- 
tions : — "That  the  hours  of  work  of  children  and  young  persons 
shall  be  reckoned  from  the  time  when  any  child  or  young 
person  shall  begin  to  work  in  the  morning."  So  that  if  A, 
e.g.,  begins  work  at  8  in  the  morning,  and  B  at  10,  B's  work- 
day must  nevertheless  end  at  the  same  hour  as  A's.  "The 
time  shall  be  regulated  by  a  public  clock,"  for  example,  the 
nearest  railway  clock?  by  which  the  factory  clock  is  to  be  set. 
The  occupier  is  to  hang  up  a  "legible"  printed  notice  stating 
the  hours  for  the  beginning  and  ending  of  work  and  the  times 
allowed  for  the  several  meals.  Children  beginning  work  be- 
fore 12  noon  may  not  be  again  employed  after  1  p.m.  The 
afternoon  shift  must  therefore  consist  of  other  children  than 

1"Rept.   of  Insp.   of   Fact,"   31st   October,    1848,    p.    98. 

8  Leonard  Horner  uses  the  expression  "nefarious  practices"  in  his  official  reports. 
("Report  of  Insp.   of  Fact.,"  31st  October,  1859,  p.   7.) 

3"Rept.,"   &c,  30th   Sept.,   1844,   p.    15. 

*  The  Act  allows  children  to  be  employed  for  10  hours  if  they  do  not  work  day 
after  day,  but  only  on  alternate  days.     In  the  main  this  clause  remained  inoperative. 

310  Capitalist  Production. 

those  employed  in  the  morning.  Of  the  hour  and  a  half  for 
meal  times,  "one  hour  thereof  at  the  least  shall  be  given  before 
three  of  the  clocl  in  the  afternoon.  .  .  .  and  at  the  same 
period  of  the  day.  No  child  or  young  person  shall  be  em- 
ployed ■  aore  than  five  hours  before  1  p.m.  without  an  interval 
for  meal  time  of  at  least  30  minutes.  No  child  or  young  per- 
son [or  female]  shall  be  employed  or  allowed  to  remain  in  any 
room  in  which  any  manufacturing  process  is  then  [i.e.,  at  meal 
times]  carri  1  on/"  &c. 

I  hi  ;  been  seen  that  these  minutiae,  which,  with  military 
uniformity,  regulate  by  stroke  of  the  clock  the  times,  limits, 
pauses  of  the  work,  were  not  at  all  the  products  of  Parlia- 
mentary fancy.  They  developed  gradually  out  of  circum- 
stances as  natural  laws  of  the  modern  mode  of  production. 
Their  formulation,  official  recognition,  and  proclamation  by  the 
State,  were  the  result  of  a  long  struggle  of  classes.  One  of 
their  first  consequences  was  that  in  practice  the  working  day 
of  the  adult  males  in  factories  became  subject  to  the  same 
limitations,  since  in  most  processes  of  production  the  co-opera- 
tion of  the  children,  young  persons,  and  women  is;  indis- 
pensable. On  the  whole,  therefore,  during  the  period  from 
1844  to  1847,  the  12  hours'  working  day  became  general  and 
uniform  in  all  branches  of  industry  under  the  Factory  Act. 

The  manufacturers,  however,  did  not  allow  this  "progress" 
without  a  compensating  "retrogression."  At  their  instigation 
the  House  of  Commons  reduced  the  minimum  age  for  exploit- 
able children  from  9  to  8,  in  order  to  assure  that  additional 
supply  of  factory  children  which  is  due  to  capitalists,  accord- 
ing to  divine  and  human  law.1 

The  years  1846-47  are  epoch-making  in  the  economic  history 
of  England.  The  Repeal  of  the  Corn  Laws,  and  of  the  duties 
on  cotton  and  other  raw  material ;  free  trade  proclaimed  as  the 
guiding  star  of  legislation  ;  in  a  word,  the  arrival  of  the  mil- 
lenium.  On  the  other  hand,  in  the  same  years,  the  Chartist 
movement  and  the  10  hours'  agitation  reached  their  highest 

1  "As  a  reduction  in  their  hours  of  work  would  cause  a  larger  number  (of  chil- 
dren) to  be  employed,  it  was  thought  that  the  additional  supply  of  children  from  8 
to  9  years  of  age  would  meet  the  increased  demand"     (1.  c,  p.  13.) 

The  Working  Day.  311 

point.  They  found  allies  in  the  Tories  panting  for  revenge. 
Despite  the  fanatical  opposition  of  the  army  of  perjured  Free- 
traders, with  Bright  and  Cobden  at  their  head,  the  Ten  Hours' 
Bill,  struggled  for  so  long,  went  through  Parliament. 

The  .iew  Factory  Act  of  June  8th,  1847,  enacted  that  on 
July  1st,  1847,  there  should  be  a  preliminary  shortening  of  the 
working  day  for  "young  persons"  (from  13  to  18),  and  all 
females  j  11  hours,  but  that  on  May  1st,  1848,  there  should 
be  a  definite  limitation  of  the  working  day  to  10  hours.  In 
other  respects,  the  Act  only  amended  and  completed  the  Acts 
of  _  83  3  r.nd  1844. 

Capital  now  entered  upon  a  preliminary  campaign  in  order 
to  hinder  the  Act  from  coming  into  full  force  on  May  1st, 
1848.  And  the  workers  themselves,  under  the  pretence  that 
they  had  been  taught  by  experience,  were  to  help  in  the  destruc- 
tion of  their  own  work.  The  moment  was  cleverly  chosen. 
"It  must  be  remembered,  too,  that  there  has  been  more  than 
two  years  of  great  suffering  (in  consequence  of  the  terrible 
crisis  of  1846-47)  among  the  factory  operatives,  from  many 
mills  having  worked  short  time,  and  many  being  altogether 
closed.  A  considerable  number  of  the  operatives  must  there- 
fore be  i  .  very  narrow  circumstances ;  many,  it  is  to  be  feared, 
in  debt ;  so  that  it  might  fairly  have  been  presumed  that  at  the 
present  time  they  would  prefer  working  the  longer  time,  in 
order  to  make  up  for  past  losses,  perhaps  to  pay  off  debts,  or 
get  their  furniture  out  of  pawn,  or  replace  that  sold,  or  to  get 
a  new  supply  of  clothes  for  themselves  and  their  families."1 

The  manufacturers  tried  to  aggravate  the  natural  effect  of 
these  circumstances  by  a  general  reduction  of  wages  by  10%. 
This  was  done,  so  to  say,  to  celebrate  the  inauguration  of  the 
new  Free  Trade  era.  Then  followed  a  further  reduction  of 
8^%  as  soon  as  the  working  day  was  shortened  to  11,  and  a 
reduction  of  double  that  amount  as  soon  as  it  was  finally 
shortened  to  10  hours.  Wherever,  therefore,  circumstances 
allowed  it,  a  reduction  of  wages  of  at  least  25%  took  place.2 

1  "Rep.  of  Insp.  of  Fact.,"  31st  Oct.,  1848,  p.  16. 

1  "I  found  that  men  who  had  been  getting  10s.  a  week,  had  had  Is.  taken  off  for 
a  reduction  in  the  rate  of  10  per  cent,  and  Is.  6d.  off  the  remaining  9s.  for  the  re- 

312  Capitalist  Production. 

Under  such  favourably  prepared  conditions  the  agitation 
among  the  factory  workers  for  the  repeal  of  the  Act  of  1847 
was  begun.  Neither  lies,  bribery,  nor  threats  were  spared  in 
this  attempt.  But  all  was  in  vain.  Concerning  the  half- 
dozen  petitions  in  which  workpeople  were  made  to  complain  of 
"their  oppression  by  the  Act,"  the  petitioners  themselves  de- 
clared under  oral  examination,  that  their  signatures  had  been 
extorted  from  them.  "They  felt  themselves  oppressed,  but  not 
exactly  by  the  Factory  Act."1  But  if  the  manufacturers  did 
not  succeed  in  making  the  workpeople  speak  as  they  wished, 
they  themselves  shrieked  all  the  louder  in  press  and  Parliament 
in  the  name  of  the  workpeople.  They  denounced  the  Factory 
Inspectors  as  a  kind  of  revolutionary  commissioners  like  those 
of  the  French  National  Convention  ruthlessly  sacrificing  the 
unhappy  factory  workers  to  their  humanitarian  crotchet.  This 
manoeuvre  also  failed.  Factory  Inspector  Leonard  Horner 
conducted  in  his  own  person,  and  through  his  sub-inspectors, 
many  examinations  of  witnesses  in  the  factories  of  Lancashire. 
About  70%  of  the  workpeople  examined  declared  in  favour 
of  10  hours,  a  much  smaller  percentage  in  favour  of  11,  and  an 
altogether  insignificant  minority  for  the  old  12  hours.2 

Another  "friendly"  dodge  was  to  make  the  adult  males 
work  12  to  15  hours,  and  then  to  blazon  abroad  this  fact  as 
the  best  proof  of  what  the  proletariat  desired  in  its  heart  of 
hearts.  But  the  "ruthless"  Factory  Inspector  Leonard  Horner 
was  again  to  the  fore.  The  majority  of  the  "over-timers" 
declared :  "They  would  much  prefer  working  ten  hours  for 
less  wages,  but  that  they  had  no  choice ;  that  so  many  were 
out  of  employment  (so  many  spinners  getting  very  low  wages 
by  having  to  work  as  piecers,  being  unable  to  do  better),  that 
if  they  refused  to  work  the  longer  time,   others  would  im- 

duction  in  time,  together  2s.  6d.,  and  notwithstanding  this,  many  of  them  said  they 
would  rather  work  10  hours."  1.  c. 

1  "  'Though  I  signed  it  [the  petition],  I  said  at  the  time  I  was  putting  my  hand  to  a 
wrong  thing.'  'Then  why  did  you  put  your  hand  to  it?'  'Because  I  should  have 
been  turned  off  if  I  had  refused.'  Whence  it  would  appear  that  this  petitioner  felt 
himself  'oppressed,'  but  not  exactly  by  the  Factory  Act."     1.  c.  p.  102. 

*  1.  c.  p.  17,  1.  c.  In  Mr.  Horner's  district  10,270  adult  male  labourers  were  thus 
examined  in  101  factories.  Their  evidence  is  to  be  found  in  the  appendix  to  the 
Factory  Reports  for  the  half-year  ending  October  1848.  These  examinations  furnish 
valuable  material  in  other  connexions  also. 

The  Working  Day.  313 

mediately  get  their  places,  so  that  it  was  a  question  with  them 
of  agreeing  to  work  the  long  time,  or  of  being  thrown  out  of 
employment  altogether."1 

The  preliminary  campaign  of  capital  thus  came  to  grief,  and 
the  Ten  Hours'  Act  came  into  force  May  1st,  1848.  But  mean- 
while the  fiasco  of  the  Chartist  party  whose  leaders  were  im- 
prisoned, and  whose  organisation  was  dismembered,  had  shaken 
the  confidence  of  the  English  working  class  in  its  own  strength. 
Soon  after  this  the  June  insurrections  in  Paris  and  its  bloody 
suppression  united,  in  England  as  on  the  Continent,  all  frac* 
tions  of  the  ruling  classes,  landlords  and  capitalists,  stock- 
exchange  wolves  and  shop-keepers.  Protectionists  and  Free- 
traders, government  and  opposition,  priests  and  free-thinkers, 
young  whores  and  old  nuns,  under  the  common  cry  for  the  sal- 
vation of  Property,  Religion,  the  Eamily  and  Society.  The 
working  class  was  everywhere  proclaimed,  placed  under  a  ban, 
under  a  virtual  law  of  suspects.  The  manufacturers  had  no 
need  any  longer  to  restrain  themselves.  They  broke  out  in 
open  revolt  not  only  against  the  Ten  Hours'  Act,  bat  against 
tk  whole  of  the  legislation  that  since  1833  had  aimed,  at  re- 
stricting in  some  measure  the  "free"  exploitation  of  labour- 
power.  It  was  a  pro-slavery  rebellion  in  miniature,  carried  on 
for  over  two  years  with  a  cynical  recklessness,  a  terrorist, 
energy  all  the  cheaper  because  the  rebel  capitalist  risked 
nothing  except  the  skin  of  his  "hands." 

To  understand  that  which  follows  we  must  remember  that 
the  Factory  Acts  of  1833,  1841,  and  1847  -ere  all  three  in 
force  so  far  as  the  one  did  not  amend  th  other :  that  not  one 
of  these  limited  the  working  day  ot  th  maL  worker  over  18, 
and  that  since  1833  the  15  hours  from  5.30  a.m.  to  8.30  p.m. 
had  remained  the  legal  "day,"  within  the  limits  of  which 
at  first  the  12;  and  later  t  e  10  hours'  labour  of  young  persons 
and  women  had  to  be  performed  under  the  prescribed  condi- 

The  manufacturers  began  by  here  and  there  discharging  a 

1 1.  c.  See  the  evidence  collected  1  Leonard  Horner  himself,  Nos.  69,  70,  71,  72, 
92,  93,  and  that  collected  by  Sub-Inspector  A.,  Nos.  51,  52,  58,  59,  62,  70,  of  the 
Appendix.  One  manufacturer,  too,  tells  the  plain  truth.  See  No.  14,  and  No. 
265,  1.  c. 

314  Capitalist  Production. 

part  of,  in  many  cases  half  of,  the  young  persons  and  -women 
employed  by  them,  and  then,  for  the  adult  males,  restoring 
the  almost  obsolete  night-work.  The  Ten  Hours'  Act,  they 
cried,  leaves  no  other  alternative.1 

Their  second  step  dealt  with  the  legal  pauses  for  meals. 
Let  us  hear  the  Factory  Inspectors.  "Since  the  restriction  of 
the  hours  of  work  to  ten,  the  factory  occupiers  maintain, 
although  they  have  not  yet  practically  gone  the  whole  length, 
that  supposing  the  hours  of  work  to  be  from  9  a.m.  to  7  p.m., 
they  fulfil  the  provisions  of  the  statutes  by  allowing  an  hour 
before  9  a.m.  and  half-an-hour  after  7  p.m.  [for  meals].  In 
some  cases  they  now  allow  an  hour,  or  half  an  hour  for  dinner, 
insisting  at  the  same  time^  that  they  are  not  bound  to  allow 
any  part  of  the  hour  and  a  half  in  the  course  of  the  factory 
working-day."2  The  manufacturers  maintained  therefore  that 
the  scrupulously  strict  provisions  of  the  Acts  of  1844  with 
regard  to  meal  times  only  gave  the  operatives  permission  to  eat 
and  drink  before  coming  into,  and  after  leaving  the  factory — 
i.e.,  at  home.  And  why  should  not  the  workpeople  eat  their 
dinner  before  9  in  the  morning  ?  The  crown  lawyers,  how- 
ever, decided  that  the  prescribed  meal  times  "must  be  in  the 
interval  during  the  working  hours,  and  that  it  will  not  be 
lawful  to  work  for  10  hours  continuously,  from  9  a.m.  to  7 
p.m.,  without  any  interval."3 

After  these  pleasant  demonstrations,  Capital  preluded  its 
revolt  by  a  step  which  agreed  with  the  letter  of  the  law  of 
1844,  and  was  therefore  legal. 

The  Act  of  1844  certainly  prohibited  the  employment  after 

1  p.m.  of  such  children,  from  8  to  13,  as  had  been  employed 
before  noon.  But  it  did  not  regulate  in  any  way  the  6£ 
hours'  work  of  the  children  whose  work-time  began  at  12  mid- 
day or  later.  Children  of  8  might,  if  they  began  work  at  noon, 
be  employed  from  12  to  1,  1  hour ;  from  2  to  4  in  the  afternoon, 

2  hours ;  from  5  to  8  :30  in  the  evening,  3^  hours ;  in  all,  the 
legal  6-|-  hours.     Or  better  still.     In  order  to  make  their  work 

1  Reports,  &c,  for  31st  October,  1848,  p.  133,  134. 
■Reports,    &c,    for    30th    April,    1848,    p.    47. 
•Reports,   &c,   for   31st   October,   1848,   p.   130. 

The  Working  Day.  315 

coincide  with  that  of  the  adult  male  labourers  up  to  8.30  p.m., 
the  manufacturers  only  had  to  give  them  no  work  till  2  in  the 
afternoon ;  they  could  then  keep  them  in  the  factory  without 
intermission  till  8.30  in  the  evening.  "And  it  is  now  expressly 
admitted  that  the  practice  exists  in  England  from  the  desire 
of  mill-owners  to  have  their  machinery  at  work  for  more  than 
10  hours  a-day,  to  keep  the  children  at  work  with  male  adults 
after  all  the  young  persons  and  women  have  left,  and  until 
S.30  p.m.,  if  the  factory-owners  choose."1  Workmen  and 
factory  inspectors  protested  on  hygienic  and  moral  grounds,  but 
Capital  answered : 

"My   deeds   upon   my   head!     I    crave   the   law, 
The  penalty  and  forfeit  of  my  bond." 

In  fact,  according  to  statistics  laid  before  the  House  of  Com- 
mons on  July  26th,  1850,  in  spite  of  all  protests,  on  July  15th, 
1850,  3,712  children  were  subjected  to  this  "practice"  in  257 
factories.2  Still  this  was  not  enough.  The  lynx  eye  of 
Capital  discovered  that  the  Act  of  1811  did  not  allow  5  hours' 
work  before  mid-day  without  a  pause  of  at  least  30  minutes  for 
refreshment,  but  prescribed  nothing  of  the  kind  for  work  after 
mid-day.  Therefore,  it  claimed  and  obtained  the  enjoyment 
not  only  of  making  children  of  8  drudge  without  intermission 
from  2  to  8.30  p.m.,  but  also  of  making  them  hunger  during 
that  time. 

"Ay,  his  heart, 

So  says  the  bond."  3 

This  Shylock-clinging  to  the  letter  of  the  law  of  1811,  so  far 
as  it  regulated  children's  labour,  was  but  to  lead  up  to  an  open 

I     1  Reports,  &c,  1  c,  p.  142. 

2  Reports,  &c,   for  31st  October,   1850,  pp.   5,  6. 

8  The  nature  of  capital  remains  the  same  in  its  developed  as  in  Its  undeveloped 
form.  In  the  code  which  the  influence  of  the  slave-owners,  shortly  before  the  out- 
break of  the  American  civil  war,  imposed  on  the  territory  of  New  Mexico,  it  is  said 
that  the  labourer,  in  as  much  as  the  capitalist  has  bought  his  labour-power,  "is  his 
(the  capitalist's)  money."  The  same  view  was  current  among  the  Roman  patricians. 
The  money  they  had  advanced  to  the  plebeian  debtor  had  been  transformed  via  the 
means  of  subsistence  into  the  flesh  and  blood  of  the  debtor.  This  "flesh  and  blood" 
were,  therefore,  "their  money."  Hence,  the  Shylock-law  of  the  Ten  Fables. 
Linguet's  hypothesis  that  the  patrician  creditors  from  time  to  time  prepared,  beyond 
the  Tiber,  banquets  of  debtors'  flesh,  may  remain  as  undecided  as  that  of  Daumer 
on  the  Christian  Eucharist. 

^i6  Capitalist  Production. 

revolt  against  the  same  law,  so  far  as  it  regulated  the  labour  of 
"young  persons  and  women."  It  will  be  remembered  that  the 
abolition  of  the  "false  relay  system"  was  the  chief  aim  and 
object  of  that  law.  The  masters  began  their  revolt  with  the 
simple  declaration  that  the  sections  of  the  Act  of  1844  which 
prohibited  the  ad  libitum  use  of  young  persons  and  women  in 
such  short  fractions  of  the  day  of  15  hours  as  the  employer 
chose,  were  "comparatively  harmless"  so  long  as  the  work- 
time  was  fixed  at  12  hours.  But  under  the  Ten  Hours'  Act 
they  were  a  "grievous  hardship."1  They  informed  the  in- 
spectors in  the  coolest  manner  that  they  should  place  them- 
selves above  the  letter  of  the  law,  and  re-introduce  the  old 
system  on  their  own  account.2  They  were  acting  in  the  inter- 
ests of  the  ill-advised  operatives  themselves,  "in  order  to  be 
able  to  pay  them  higher  wages."  "This  was  the  only  possible 
plan  by  which  to  maintain,  under  the  Ten  Hours'  Act,  the  in- 
dustrial supremacy  of  Great  Britain."  "Perhaps  it  may  be  a 
little  difficult  to  detect  irregularities  under  the  relay  system ; 
but  what  of  that  ?  Is  the  great  manufacturing  interest  of  this 
country  to  be  treated  as  a  secondary  matter  in  order  to  save 
same  little  trouble  to  Inspectors  and  Sub-Inspectors  of  Fac- 
tories ?"3 

All  these  shifts  naturally  were  of  no  avail.  The  Factory 
Inspectors  appealed  to  the  Law  Courts.  But  soon  such  a  cloud 
of  dust  in  the  way  of  petitions  from  the  masters  overwhelmed 
the  Home  Secretary,  Sir  George  Grey,  that  in  a  circular  of 
August  5th,  1848,  he  recommends  the  inspectors  not  "to  lay 
informations  against  mill-owners  for  a  breach  of  the  letter  of 
the  Act,  or  for  employment  of  young  persons  by  relays  in  cases 
in  which  there  is  no  reason  to  believe  that  such  young  persons 
have  been  actually  employed  for  a  longer  period  than  that 
sanctioned  by  law."  Hereupon,  Factory  Inspector  J.  Stuart 
allowed  the  so-called  relay  system  during  the  15  hours  of  the 
factory  day  throughout  Scotland,  where  it  soon  flourished  again 
as  of  old.     The  English  Factory  Inspectors,  on  the  other  hand, 

1  Reports,  &c,   for  30th  April,  1848,   p.   28. 

a  Thus,  among  others,  Philanthropist  Ashworth  to  Leonard  Horner,  in  a  disgusting 
Quaker  letter.     (Reports,  &c,  April,   1849,  p.   4.) 
8L  c.  p.  140. 

•     The  Working  Day.  317 

declared  that  the  Home  Secretary  had  no  power  dictatorially 
to  suspend  the  law,  and  continued  their  legal  proceedings 
against  the  pro-slavery  rebellion. 

But  what  was  the  good  of  summoning  the  capitalists  when 
the  Courts,  in  this  case  the  country  magistrates — Cobbett's 
"Great  Unpaid" — acquitted  them  %  In  these  tribunals,  the 
masters  sat  in  judgment  on  themselves.  An  example.  One 
Eskrigge,  cotton-spinner,  of  the  firm  of  Kershaw,  Leese,  & 
Co.,  had  laid  before  the  Factory  Inspector  of  his  district  the 
scheme  of  a  relay  system  intended  for  his  mill.  Receiving  a 
refusal,  he  at  first  kept  quiet.  A  few  months  later,  an  in- 
dividual named  Robinso^  also  a  cotton-spinner,  and  if  not  his 
Man  Friday,  at  all  events  related  to  Eskrigge,  appeared  before 
the  borough  magistrates  of  Stockport  on  a  charge  of  introduc- 
ing the  identical  plan  of  relays  invented  by  Eskrigge.  Four 
Justices  sat,  among  them  three  cotton-spinners,  at  their  head 
this  same  inevitable  Eskrigge.  Eskrigge  acquitted  Robinson, 
and  now  was  of  opinion  that  what  was  right  for  Robinson  was 
fair  for  Eskrigge.  Supported  by  his  own  legal  decision,  he  in- 
troduced the  system  at  once  into  his  own  factory.1  Of  course, 
the  composition  of  this  tribunal  was  in  itself  a  violation  of  the 
law.2  These  judicial  farces,  exclaims  Inspector  Howell, 
urgently  call  for  a  remedy — either  that  the  law  should  be  so 
altered  as  to  be  made  to  conform  to  these  decisions,  or  that  it 
should  be  administered  by  a  less  fallible  tribunal,  whose  de- 
cisions would  conform  to  the  law.  .  .  .  when  these  cases  are 
brought  forward.     I  long  for  a  stipendiary  magistrate."3 

The  Crown  lawyers  declared  the  masters'  interpretation  of 
fhe  Act  of  1848  absurd.  But  the  Saviours  of  Society  would 
not  allow  themselves  to  be  turned  from  their  purpose.  Leonard 
Horner  reports,  "Having  endeavoured  to  enforce  the  Act  .  .  . 
by  ten  prosecutions  in  seven  magisterial  divisions,  and  having 
been  supported  by  the  magistrates  in  one  case  only.  ...  I 

1  Reports,  &c,  for  30th  April,  1849,  pp.  21,  22.     Cf.  like  examples  ibid.  pp.  4,   5. 

*  By  I.  and  II.  Will.  IV.,  ch.  24,  s.  10,  known  as  Sir  John  Hobhouse's  Factory 
Act,  it  was  forbidden  to  any  owner  of  a  cotton-spinning  or  weaving  mill,  or  the 
father,  son,  or  brother  of  such  owner,  to  act  as  Justice  of  the  Peace  in  any  in- 
quiries that  concerned  the  Factory  Act. 

tl,  c 

318  Capitalist  Production. 

considered  it  useless  to  prosecute  more  for  this  evasion  of  the 
law.  That  part  of  the  Act  of  1848  which  was  framed  for 
securing  uniformity  in  the  hours  of  work,  ...  is  thus  no 
longer  in  force  in  my  district  (Lancashire).  Neither  have  the 
sub-inspectors  or  myself  any  means  of  satisfying  ourselves, 
when  we  inspect  a  mill  working  by  shifts,  that  the  young  per- 
sons and  women  are  not  working  more  than  10  hours  a-day. 
.  .  .  In  a  return  of  the  30th  April,  ...  of  mill-owners  work- 
ing by  shifts,  the  number  amounts  to  114,  and  has  been  for 
some  time  rapidly  increasing.  In  general,  the  time  of  work- 
ing the  mill  is  extended  to  13^  hours,  from  6  a.m.  to  7-J  p.m., 
...  in  some  instances  it  amounts  to  15  hours,  from  5-|  a.m. 
to  8^  p.  m."1  Already,  in  Decembe±,  1848,  Leonard  Horner 
had  a  list  of  65  manufacturers  and  29  overlookers  who  unani- 
mously declared  that  no  system  of  supervision  could,  under  this 
relay  system,  prevent  enormous  overwork.2  Now,  the  same 
children  and  young  persons  were  shifted  from  the  spinning- 
room  to  the  weaving-room,  now,  during  15  hours,  from  one 
factory  to  another.3  How  was  it  possible  to  control  a  system 
which,  "under  the  guise  of  relays,  is  some  one  of  the  many 
plans  for  shuffling  'the  hands'  about  in  endless  variety,  and 
shifting  the  hours  of  work  and  of  rest  for  different  individuals 
throughout  the  day,  so  that  you  may  never  have  one  complete 
set  of  hands  working  together  in  the  same  room  at  the  same 

But  altogether  independently  of  actual  overwork,  this  so- 
called  relay-system  was  an  offspring  of  capitalistic  fantasy 
such  as  Fourier,  in  his  humorous  sketches  of  "Courtes 
Seances,"  has  never  surpassed,  except  that  the  "attraction  of 
labour"  was  changed  into  the  attraction  of  capital.  Look,  for 
example,  at  those  schemes  of  the  masters  which  the  "respect- 
able" press  praised  as  models  of  "what  a  reasonable  degree  of 
care  and  method  can  accomplish."  The  personnel  of  the  work- 
people was  sometimes  divided  into  from  12  to  14  categories, 
which  themselves  constantly  changed  and  rechanged  their  con- 

1  Reports,   &c,  for  30th  April,   1849,  p.   5. 

*  Reports,    &c.,  for  31st   October,    1849,    p.    6. 

8  Reports,   &c,  for  30th  April,   1849,   p.   21. 

•Reports,  &c.,  for  1st  October,   1848,  p.   95. 

The  Working  Day.  319 

Stituent  parts.  During  the  15  hours  of  the  factory  day,  capital 
dragged  in  the  labourer  now  for  30  minutes,  now  for  an  hour, 
and  then  pushed  him  out  again,  to  drag  him  into  the  factory 
and  to  thrust  him  out  afresh,  hounding  him  hither  and  thither, 
in  scattered  shi-eds  of  time,  without  ever  losing  hold  of  him 
until  the  full  10  hours'  work  was  done.  As  on  the  stage,  the 
same  persons  had  to  appear  in  turns  in  the  different  scenes 
of  the  different  acts.  But  as  an  actor  during  the  whole  course 
of  the  play  belongs  to  the  stage,  so  the  operatives,  during  15 
hours,  belonged  to  the  factory,  without  reckoning  the  time 
for  going  and  coming.  Thus  the  hours  of  rest  were  turned 
into  hours  of  enforced  idleness,  which  drove  the  youths  to 
the  pot-house,  and  the  girls  to  the  brothel.  At  every  new 
trick  that  the  capitalist,  from  day  to  day,  hit  upon  for  keep- 
ing his  machinery  going  12  or  15  hours  without  increasing 
the  number  of  his  hands,  the  worker  had  to  swallow  his  meals 
now  in  this  fragment  of  time,  now  in  that.  At  the  time  of  the 
10  hours'  agitation,  the  masters  cried  out  that  the  working  mob 
petitioned  in  the  hope  of  obtaining  12  hours'  wages  for  10 
hours'  work.  Now  they  reversed  the  medal.  They  paid  10 
hours'  wages  for  12  or  15  hours'  lordship  over  labour-power.1 
This  was  the  gist  of  the  matter,  this  the  masters'  interpretation 
of  the  10  hours'  law !  These  were  the  same  unctuous  free- 
traders, perspiring  with  the  love  of  humanity,  who  for  full  10 
years,  during  the  Anti-Corn  Law  agitation,  had  preached  to 
the  operatives,  by  a  reckoning  of  pounds,  shillings  and  pence, 
that  with  free  importation  of  corn,  and  with  the  means  pos- 
sessed by  English  industry,  10  hours'  labour  would  be  quite 
enough  to  enrich  the  capitalist.2  This  revolt  of  capital,  after 
two  years,  was  at  last  crowned  with  victory  by  a  decision  of 
one  of  the  four  highest  Courts  of  Justice  in  England,  the 
Court  of  Exchequer,  which  in  a  case  brought  before  it  on 
February   8th,    1850,   decided  that  the  manufacturers  were 

1  See  Reports,  &c,  for  30th  April,  1849,  p.  6,  and  the  detailed  explanation  of  the 
"shifting  system,"  by  Factory  Inspectors  Howell  and  Saunders,  in  "Reports,  &c.,  for 
31st  October,  1848."  See  also  the  petition  to  the  Queen  from  the  clergy  of  Ashton 
and  vicinity,   in  the   spring  of   1849,    against  the  "shift  system." 

*  Cf.  for  example,  "The  Factory  Question  and  the  Ten  Hours'  Bill."  By  R.  H. 
Greg    1837. 

320  'Capitalist  Production. 

certainly  acting  against  the  sense  of  the  Act  of  1844.  but  that 
this  Act  itself  contained  certain  words  that  rendered  it  mean- 
ingless. "By  this  decision,  the  Ten  Hours'  Act  "was  aDoi- 
ished."1  A  crowd  of  masters,  who  until  then  had  been  afraid 
of  using  the  relay-system  for  young  persons  and  women,  now 
took  it  up  heart  and  soul.2 

But  on  this  apparently  decisive  victory  of  capital,  followed 
at  once  a  revulsion.  The  workpeople  had  hitherto  offered  a 
passive,  although  inflexible  and  unremitting  resistance.  They 
now  protested  in  Lancashire  and  Yorkshire  in  threatening 
meetings.  The  pretended  Ten  Hours'  Act,  was  thus  simple 
humbug,  parliamentary  cheating,  had  never  existed!  The 
Factory  Inspectors  urgently  warned  the  Government  that  the 
antagonism  of  classes  had  arrived  at  an  incredible  tension. 
Some  of  the  masters  themselves  murmured:  "On  account  of 
the  contradictory  decisions  of  the  magistrates,  a  condition  of 
things  altogether  abnormal  and  anarchial  obtains.  One  law 
holds  in  Yorkshire,  another  in  Lancashire ;  one  law  in  -one 
parish  of  Lancashire,  another  in  its  immediate  neighborhood. 
The  manufacturer  in  large  towns  could  evade  the  law,  the 
manufacturer  in  country  districts  could  not  find  the  people 
necessary  for  the  relay-system,  still  less  for  the  shifting  of 
hands  from  one  factory  to  another,"  &c.  And  the  first  birth- 
right of  capital  is  equal  exploitation  of  labour-power  by  all 

Under  these  circumstances  a  compromise  between  masters 
and  men  was  effected  that  received  the  seal  of  Parliament  in 
the  additional  Factory  Act  of  August  5th,  1850.  The  work- 
ing day  for  "young  persons  and  women,"  was  raised  from  10 
to  10iy  hours  for  the  first  five  days  of  the  week,  and  was 
shortened  to  1\  on  the  Saturday.  The  work  was  to  go  on  be- 
tween 6  a.m.  and  6  p.m.,3  with  pauses  of  not  less  than  1^  hours 
for  meal-times,  these  meal-times  to  be  allowed  at  one  and  the 

1  F.  Engels:  "The  English  Ten  Hours'  Bill."  (In  the  "Neue  Rheinische  Zeitung, 
Politisch-cekonomische  Revue."  Edited  by  K.  Marx.  April  number,  1850,  p.  13.) 
The  same  "high"  Court  of  Justice  discovered,  during  the  American  Civil  War,  a 
verbal  ambiguity  which  exactly  reversed  the  meaning  of  the  law  against  the  arming 
of   pirate   ships. 

*  Rep.,  &c,  for  30th  April,  1850. 

*  In  winter,  from  7  a.m.  to  7  p.m.  may  be  substituted. 

The  Working  Day.  321 

same  time  for  all,  and  conformably  to  the  conditions  of  1844. 
By  this  an  end  was  put  to  the  relay-system  once  for  all.1  For 
children's  labour,  the  Act  of  1844  remained  in  force. 

One  set  of  masters,  this  time  as  before,  secured  to  itself 
6pecial  seigneurial  rights  over  the  children  of  the  proletariat. 
These  were  the  silk  manufacturers.  In  1833  they  had  howled 
out  in  threatening  fashion,  "if  the  liberty  of  working  children 
of  any  age  for  10  hours  a  day  were  taken  away,  it  would  stop 
their  works."2  It  would  be  impossible  for  them  to  buy  a  suffi- 
cient number  of  children  over  13.  They  extorted  the  privilege 
they  desired.  The  pretext  was  shown  on  subsequent  investiga- 
tion to  be  a  deliberate  lie.3  It  did  not,  however,  prevent  them, 
during  10  years,  from  spinning  silk  10  hours  a  day  out  of  the 
blood  of  little  children  who  had  to  be  placed  upon  stools  for 
the  performance  of  their  work.4  The  Act  of  1844  certainly 
"robbed"  them  of  the  "liberty"  of  employing  children  under 
11  longer  than  6^  hours  a  day.  But  it  secured  to  them,  on  the 
other  hand,  the  privilege  of  working  children  between  11  and 
13,  10  hours  a  day,  and  of  annulling  in  their  case  the  educa- 
tion made  compulsory  for  all  other  factory  children.  This 
time  the  pretext  was  "the  delicate  texture  of  the  fabric  in 
which  they  were  employed,  requiring  a  lightness  of  touch,  only 
to  be  acquired  by  their  early  introduction  to  these  factories."5 
The  children  were  slaughtered  out-and-out  for  the  sake  of  their 
delicate  fingers,  as  in  Southern  Bussia  the  horned  cattle  for  thej 
sake  of  their  hide  and  tallow.  At  length,  in  1850,  the  privilege 
granted  in  1844  was  limited  to  the  departments  of  silk-twist- 
ing and  silk-winding.  But  here,  to  make  amends  to  capital 
bereft  of  its  "freedom,"  the  work  time  for  children  from  11 
to  13  was  raised  from  10  to  10|  hours.  Pretext:  "Labour  in 
silk  mills  was  lighter  than  in  mills  for  other  fabrics,  and  less 
likely  in  other  respects  also  to  be  prejudicial  to  health."6 
Official  medical  inquiries  proved  afterwards  that,  on  the  con- 

1  "The  present  law  (of  1850)  was  a  compromise  whereby  the  employed  surrendered 
the  benefit  of  the  Ten  Hours'  Act  for  the  advantage  of  one  uniform  period  for  the 
commencement  and  termination  of  the  labour  of  those  whose  labour  is  restricted." 
(Reports,   &c,   for   30th  April,  1852,  p.   14.) 

2  Reports,  &c,   for  Sept.,  1844,  p.  13.  8L  C.  *L  C 
«1.  c. 

6  Reports,  &c,  for  31st  Oct.,  1861,  p.  26. 



Capitalist  Production. 

trary,  "the  average  death-rate  is  exceedingly  high  in  the  silk 
districts,  and  amongst  the  female  part  of  the  population  is 
higher  even  than  it  is  in  the  cotton  districts  of  Lancashire."1 
Despite  the  protests  of  the  Factory  Inspector,  renewed  every 
6  months,  the  mischief  continues  to  this  hour.2 

The  Act  of  1850  changed  the  15  hours'  time  from  6  a.m.  to 
8 :30  p.m.,  into  the  12  hours  from  6  a.m.  to  6  p.m.  for  "young 
persons  and  women"  only.  It  did  not,  therefore,  affect  chil- 
dren who  could  always  be  employed  for  half  an  hour  before 
and  2%  hours  after  this  period,  provided  the  whole  of  their 
labour  did  not  exceed  6^  hours.  Whilst  the  bill  was  under 
discussion,  the  Factory  Inspectors  laid  before  Parliament  sta- 
tistics of  the  infamous  abuses  due  to  this  anomaly.  To  no 
purpose.  In  the  background  lurked  the  intention  of  screwing 
up,  during  prosperous  years,  the  working  day  of  adult  males 

1 1.  c,  p.  27.  On  the  whole  the  working  population,  subject  to  the  Factory  Act, 
has  greatly  improved  physically.  All  medical  testimony  agrees  on  this  point,  and 
personal  observation  at  different  times  has  convinced  me  of  it.  Nevertheless,  and 
exclusive  of  the  terrible  death-rate  of  children  in  the  first  years  of  their  life,  the 
official  reports  of  Dr.  Greenhow  show  the  unfavourable  health  condition  of  the  manu- 
facturing districts  as  compared  with  "agricultural  districts  of  normal  health."  As 
evidence,   take  the  following  table  from   his  1861   report: — 





of     Adult 



of  Adult 

Males  en- 




Kind  of  Female 

gaged  in 


Name  of  District. 


engaged  in 



per 100,000 

per  100,000 





























































Eight  healthy  agri- 


cultural  districts 


-  ft  is  well-known  with  what  reluctance  the  English  "free  traders"  gave  up  the 
protective  duty  on  the  silk  manufacture.  Instead  of  the  protection  against  French 
importation,  the  absence  of  protection  to  English  factory  children  now  serves  their 

The  Working  Day.  323 

to  15  hours  by  the  aid  of  the  children.  The  experience  of  the 
three  following  years  showed  that  such  an  attempt  must  come 
to  grief  against  the  resistance  of  the  adult  male  operatives. 
The  Act  of  1850  was  therefore  finally  completed  in  1853  by 
forbidding  the  "employment  of  children  in  the  morning  be- 
fore and  in  the  evening  after  young  persons  and  women." 
Henceforth  with  a  few  exceptions  the  Factory  Act  of  1850 
regulated  the  working  day  of  all  workers  in  the  branches  of 
industry  that  come  under  it.1  Since  the  passing  of  the  first 
Factory  Act  half  a  century  had  elapsed.2 

Factory  legislation  for  the  first  time  went  beyond  its  original 
sphere  in  the  "Printworks'  Acts  of  1815."  The  displeasure 
with  which  capital  received  this  new  "extravagance"  speaks 
through  every  line  of  the  Act.  It  limits  the  working  day  for 
children  from  8  to  13,  and  for  women  to  16  hours,  between 
6  a.m.  and  10  p.m.,  without  any  legal  pause  for  meal  times. 
It  allows  males  over  13  to  be  worked  at  will  day  and  night.3 
It  is  a  Parliamentary  abortion.4 

However,  the  principle  had  triumphed  with  its  victory  in 
those  great  branches  of  industry  which  form  the  most  char- 
acteristic creation  of  the  modern  mode  of  production.  Their 
wonderful  development  from  1853  to  1860,  hand-in-hand  with 
the  physical  and  moral  regeneration  of  the  factory  workers, 

1  During  1859  and  1860,  the  zenith  years  of  the  English  cotton  industry,  some 
manufacturers  tried,  by  the  decoy  bait  of  higher  wages  for  over-time,  to  reconcile 
the  adult  male  operatives  to  an  extension  of  the  working  day.  The  hand-mule  spin- 
ners and  self-actor  minders  put  an  end  to  the  experiment  by  a  petition  to  their 
employers  in  which  they  say,  "Plainly  speaking,  our  lives  are  to  us  a  burthen;  and, 
while  we  are  confined  to  the  mills  nearly  two  days  a  week  more  than  the  other 
operatives  of  the  country,  we  feel  like  helots  in  the  land,  and  that  we  are  perpetu- 
ating a  system  injurious  to  ourselves  and  future  generations.  .  .  .  This,  there- 
fore, is  to  give  you  most  respectful  notice  that  when  we  commence  work  again  after 
the  Christmas  and  New  Years'  holidays,  we  shall  work  60  hours  per  week,  and  no 
more,  or  from  six  to  six,  with  one  hour  and  a  half  out."  (Reports,  &c,  for  30th 
April,    1860,    p.    30.) 

2  On  the  means  that  the  wording  of  this  Act  afforded  for  its  violation  cf.  the 
Parliamentary  Return  "Factory  Regulations  Act"  (6th  August,  1859),  and  in  it 
Leonard  Horner's  "Suggestions  for  amending  th